13 Aug 2008

Conflicting comments on outcome of Zimbabwe talks

2:55 pm on 13 August 2008

Uncertainty surrounds the state of negotiations between the Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and the country's opposition on a possible power-sharing deal.

Officials from Zimbabwe's governing ZANU-PF party have reportedly said Mr Mugabe and the leader of a breakaway faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Arthur Mutambara, have reached an agreement.

If true, it would appear to leave Mr Mugabe's main opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, out of the deal.

But the claim has been dismissed by South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is mediating talks. Mr Mbeki says talks have halted to allow Mr Tsvangirai time to consider a point of disagreement. He denies claims of a deal that excludes him.

After three days mediating power-sharing negotiations, Mr Mbeki says he remains confident all three parties in the talks will find a resolution.

Mr Mutambara is refusing to comment, but says he will inform journalists of the outcome of the talks soon.

Talks began in July after Mr Mugabe's unopposed re-election in a June poll that was condemned throughout the world as unfair and boycotted by Mr Tsvangirai because of attacks on his supporters.