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Mugabe threatens to break off Zimbabwe talks

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe threatened in state media to break off power-sharing talks if opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai declines a deal in their next meeting.

world Updated: Jan 18, 2009 18:32 IST

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe threatened in state media on Sunday to break off power-sharing talks if opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai declines a deal in their next meeting.

The bitter rivals are set to meet Monday for talks mediated by South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, who hopes to salvage a unity accord that stalled almost as soon as it was signed in September.

The stalemate has only worsened the plight of ordinary Zimbabweans, with half the population dependent on food aid, astronomical levels of hyperinflation, and a cholera epidemic sweeping unchecked across the country.

"This is the occasion when it's either they accept or it's a break," Mugabe said in the government mouthpiece Sunday Mail newspaper.

"We have gone past negotiations and whatever concessions were there to be made have already been made," he said.

The agreement calls for 84-year-old Mugabe to remain president while Tsvangirai would take the new post of prime minister. But they have yet to agree on how to share power within cabinet despite repeated interventions by African leaders.

Since leaders of the 15-nation South African Development Community (SADC) failed at a November summit to break the impasse, Tsvangirai has spent more than two months outside the country trying to lobby international support.

He returned to Zimbabwe on Saturday, and was meeting with the leadership of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) today to hammer out the party's stance ahead of the talks.