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Zimbabwe opposition, Mugabe fail to reach agreement: officials

Zimbabwe's political leaders failed to iron out differences, which have held back a unity Govt aimed at ending the country's political and economic turmoil.

world Updated: Oct 04, 2008 21:43 IST

Zimbabwe's political leaders failed on Saturday to iron out differences, which have held back a unity government aimed at ending the country's political and economic turmoil, the opposition said.

President Robert Mugabe, opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC splinter group head Arthur Mutambara met to resolve differences over key ministries and governor posts, Movement for Democratic Change spokesman Nelson Chamisa told AFP.

"There was deliberation but there was no agreement," Chamisa said. "Further consultations will take place with a view to try resolve the issues."

The parties had "a frank and realistic" exchange but the allocation of ministries such as home affairs and finance were still deadlocked, Chamisa said.

The failure to agree on the key posts has delayed the implementation of a unity government outlined in a power-sharing agreement signed by the three leaders last month.

"We hope that things will be resolved soon but the delay is a threat to people's lives. People are dying... the humanitarian response has to be activated and you need a functional government to do that," Chamisa said.

"People are suffering in this country, the situation is catastrophic," he added.

Mutambara's spokesman Edwin Mushoriwa said the discussions were inconclusive and the unresolved issues were back with negotiators.

"The meeting took place at state house but the discussions were inconclusive in spite of claims by the principals that there were achievements," he told AFP.

"The negotiators are meeting to try and panel-beat the issues that have been left. The principals (the three leaders) understand the urgency of this matter that it has to be concluded."

A source close to the negotiations said Tsvangirai and Mutambara met before meeting Mugabe to come up with a joint position. The pair also met again after the meeting failed to lead to an agreement.

The South African government said on Friday that former president Thabo Mbeki, who brokered the power-sharing deal, had agreed to resume his mediation to resolve the crisis.

"We will issue a statement when he does go," Mbeki's spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga said Saturday.

Under the South African-brokered deal, Mugabe will remain as head of state after nearly three decades in power while Tsvangirai is to take up a new post of prime minister and Mutambara will be a deputy prime minister.

The deal was heralded as an historic initiative to resolve Zimbabwe's political deadlock and economic melt-down.

Once one of Africa's most prosperous countries, Zimbabwe now suffers the world's highest rate of inflation, last estimated at 11.2 million percent, leaving 80 percent of the population living in poverty.