(AFP) – Sep 1, 2008
HARARE (AFP) — Zimbabwe's main opposition called on regional powers on Monday to pressure President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party to be more flexible in power-sharing talks.
Negotiations between the two sides ended at the weekend without a deal, but a spokesman for South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is mediating the talks, said they were still alive.
"We hope the SADC and President Thabo Mbeki are going to play the umpire role and help to have flexibility on the part of ZANU-PF," said Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change.
The regional bloc Southern African Development Community (SADC) appointed Mbeki as mediator in July.
"ZANU-PF has to be persuaded to be rational and put the people first. The dialogue is not just about power. It has to go beyond that," Chamisa told AFP.
"They (ZANU-PF) are not committed to finding a solution to the problems bedevilling the country. All they want is power," he added.
The talks, which began in July, have stalled amid differences over how to share executive powers between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in a national unity government.
The rival parties returned home from South Africa at the weekend after Mbeki's bid to kick-start the talks failed.
Mbeki had separate talks with negotiators from both camps on Friday.
His spokesman said Monday that the talks would continue, but declined to say when or how they would resume.
"The mediation and the talks continue, it is an ongoing process. Don't listen to the insinuations that the talks broke down," spokesman Mukoni Rashitanga told AFP.
Chamisa insisted Monday that the continued detention of four opposition MPs, arrested last week, was "part of the ZANU-PF strategy to undermine our majority in parliament."
"One wonders about the sincerity of ZANU-PF in the talks. You can't be hunting down the very people you are negotiating with."
Mugabe has threatened to form a new government without the MDC if the impasse continues.
The 84-year-old leader, in power since independence in 1980, was re-elected in June in a one-man presidential run-off after Tsvangirai, victor in the first round, bowed out amid widespread electoral violence.
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