Zimbabwe rivals in new talks to end deadlock

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The Independent Online

Zimbabwe's political rivals will meet in South Africa today for talks to end a political deadlock, amid mounting pressure from regional leaders for a deal to prevent the humanitarian crisis becoming still worse.

Negotiators from President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and a breakaway MDC faction will meet former South African President Thabo Mbeki to discuss a draft constitutional amendment paving the way for a new government.

Mbeki has been reviewing the draft law, which many in the southern African country hope will usher in a new government to end a crippling economic crisis that has seen inflation soar to more than 230 million percent.

The MDC has refused to enter government, accusing ZANU-PF of trying to take the most powerful ministries and freeze it out, violating a Sept. 15 power-sharing deal. Talks on forming a cabinet have been deadlocked for two months.

The power-sharing agreement may unravel if Mugabe names a cabinet without MDC agreement, jeopardising what is seen as the best chance of reversing a decade of gradual economic collapse.

The MDC had threatened to boycott Tuesday's meeting, but said on Monday it would attend the talks and aim to address all the issues stalling an agreement.

"Our team, consistent with the duty and obligation to represent the people, will attend tomorrow's meeting in South Africa," spokesman Nelson Chamisa told Reuters.

"We will not accept any parochial and reductionist approach that seeks to impose only one item, the constitutional amendment on us. We all know there is a basket of issues that have to be tackled collectively."