Mbeki to meet Zimbabwe rivals

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The Independent Online

South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki has arrived in the Zimbabwean capital to revive powersharing talks. He will meet Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai as well as Arthur Mutambara, leader of a breakaway group from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Talks will resume today after President Robert Mugabe and opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai failed to secure a breakthrough on yesterday.

Mugabe told reporters no deal was reached but the parties held a good meeting.

"We are moving forward, we are not going back," he said, as he left the Harare hotel where South African president Thabo Mbeki led talks to end the political and economic crisis, after several hours of meetings.

Asked if a deal had been reached, Mugabe said: "Not yet".

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai did not speak to reporters as he left the venue but party spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the negotiations would resume on Tuesday.

"We are trying to bridge the areas of our differences," he said.

Mbeki - mandated by the region to secure a deal - flew into Harare in a bid to revive talks, amid growing doubts over his chances of breaking the deadlock.

Two months of meetings in South Africa and Harare have so far failed to ease divisions over executive powers.

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

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 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 MDC has made it clear it has little faith in Mbeki as a mediator.