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'Zimbabwe parties to resume cabinet talks'

world Updated: Oct 06, 2008 16:46 IST

AFP
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Zimbabwe's main political rivals will meet on Monday to discuss the allocation of contentious cabinet posts after their leaders failed to agree at the weekend, the state-owned Herald newspaper said.

"We are most likely to meet on Monday," Nicholas Goche, one of the negotiators from President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party said.

The meeting was to resolve a stalemate over the allocation of the key cabinet portfolios of finance and home affairs, the newspaper said.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) denies that disagreement is over the allocation of those two portfolios in particular and accuses ZANU-PF of insisting on taking all the influential ministries.

The failure to reach an accord on the cabinet has delayed the formation of a unity government since a historic power-sharing deal was signed in Harare on September 15.

The deal, brokered by former South African president Thabo Mbeki, was hailed as a breakthrough in ending months of political deadlock and long-term economic melt-down in the former regional breadbasket.

In the power-sharing government, Tsvangirai assumes the new post of prime minister while Mugabe, 84, retains the presidency.

The parties agreed that ZANU-PF takes 15 cabinet posts, Tsvangirai's MDC 13 and a splinter MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara gets three.

The three parties have held a series of meeting but failed to agree on which party takes control of key cabinet posts including home affairs, defence, finance and foreign affairs.

The latest meeting between Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara on Saturday ended in a stalemate prompting them to refer the matter to their negotiators.

ZANU-PF lost its parliamentary majority for the first time to Tsvangirai's MDC in March elections, while Mugabe failed to win presidential elections outright.

However the veteran president kept his job in June after Tsvangirai pulled out of a run-off poll, saying his supporters were in danger from violent attacks blamed on ZANU-PF.