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Mbeki launches fresh bid to end Zim political impasse

South African President Thabo Mbeki will meet Zimbabwe’s rival parties in Harare on Monday in a new attempt to secure a power-sharing deal amid growing doubts over his chances of success.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on Sunday he would rather quit talks than sign a bad deal and challenged President Robert Mugabe to hold a new election. Mugabe threatened to form a government alone if Tsvangirai did not sign a deal last week.

The post-election talks are deadlocked over how to share executive power between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, putting off any chance of rescuing Zimbabwe from its economic collapse.

South African Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said Mbeki would meet the leaders of Zimbabwe’s negotiating parties in Harare.

Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in a March 29 election but fell short of enough votes to avoid a June run-off, which was won by Mugabe unopposed after Tsvangirai pulled out, citing violence and intimidation against his supporters.

Mbeki, mandated by regional countries to mediate in the Zimbabwe talks, has come under repeated fire for not being tough enough with Mugabe.

Other Southern African leaders have taken a harder line against Mugabe, but he has refused to budge, and Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has made it clear it has little faith in Mbeki as a mediator.

Tsvangirai told a rally on Sunday marking the party’s ninth anniversary that he would not change his position in the power-sharing talks if pressured by Mbeki.

The election run-off was condemned around the world and drew toughened sanctions from Western countries whose support is vital for reviving Zimbabwe’s ruined economy.

A smaller, breakaway faction of the MDC, led by Arthur Mutambara, is the third party in negotiations aimed at forming a national unity government.

Tsvangirai told the rally an agreement was out of the question unless Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, was prepared to compromise. – Reuters

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