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Zimbabwe Power-Sharing Talks Move Towards Deal


Zimbabwe's political leaders say they are hopeful a deal is close following a third day of power-sharing talks.

At the conclusion of negotiations on Wednesday, President Robert Mugabe said he hopes all parties will sign an agreement on Thursday. He said so far, the process is encouraging.

Main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said very little work is left to do in the negotiations.

The issue of how much power President Mugabe and Tsvangirai will have in a power-sharing government is the main sticking point in the talks, taking place in the capital, Harare.

The talks' continuation prompted the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to postpone a security summit that was due to start Wednesday.

South African President Thabo Mbeki is mediating the talks, operating under an SADC mandate.

The negotiations appeared deadlocked a week ago, after Tsvangirai rejected a proposal that would leave most power in the hands of President Mugabe and leave him with the largely ceremonial post of prime minister. Tsvangirai has said he would rather have no deal than a bad deal.

Zimbabwe's state-run Herald newspaper reports that Mr. Mugabe has warned he will form a new government by the end of the week regardless of whether the sides can reach an agreement.

Tsvangirai's party, the Movement for Democratic Change, gained control of parliament in the March parliamentary elections, and he won more votes than Mr. Mugabe in the presidential poll.

But official results showed Tsvangirai falling short of a majority, and he boycotted a run-off presidential election because of state-sponsored attacks on his supporters.

Mr. Mugabe won the uncontested run-off, extending his nearly 30-year rule.

The parties are under international pressure to reach a power-sharing deal so Zimbabwe can begin recovering from its deep economic crisis. The country is suffering food and fuel shortages that have helped drive up inflation to an estimated 11 million percent.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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