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Analyst Optimistic - With Reservations - On Zimbabwe Power-Sharing Deal

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai were both optimistic Tuesday after a day of talks on power-sharing. Tsvangirai told reporters that there had been a positive development during the negotiations in Harare. President Mugabe also reportedly said there was progress in some areas, although he said there were still outstanding issues.

One news account quoting Zimbabwe government sources said a possible power-sharing agreement could even be signed Wednesday. Tsvangirai earlier rejected a proposal for Mr. Mugabe to remain president and keep control over Zimbabwe's security forces.

Harald Pakendorf is an independent South African political analyst. From Cape Town, he told that if reports of a deal are true then there must have been an added incentive offered to both sides.

"If the information is true, the implication would be that Mr. Mugabe heads the government. He has been trying to form the government, and this would be that Mr. Tsvangirai has accepted that he won't be in the powerful position that he thought he would have after winning the election. I would think that if the report is correct then there must be an added something that we don't know about, perhaps a timeline, something which says Mr. Mugabe would serve the government for a year and then Mr. Tsvangirai takes over or perhaps talks of another election," he said.

Tsvangirai earlier rejected a proposal for Mr. Mugabe to remain president and keep control over Zimbabwe's security forces.

Pakendorf said it would be a big mistake for Tsvangirai to accept a largely ceremonial post as prime minister while giving President Mugabe extensive executive power.

"If Mr. Mugabe has the power then he would undermine Mr. Tsvangirai in every corner, and I'm afraid that if Mr. Mugabe is in the government, there would be very little positive response from countries outside of Zimbabwe to help the country rebuild itself," Pakendorf said.

He said another factor that may make possible a power-sharing deal is if either South African President Thabo Mbeki or the Southern African Development Community makes available an economic package to help Zimbabwe's broken economy.

Pakendorf said he would be surprised if President Mugabe offered Tsvangirai more power as prime minister.

"That would really be a surprise, and it would mean that the depth of the economic strangulation in Zimbabwe has finally made the present rulers understand that there is end to the game," he said.

Pakendorf said if the reports are correct and a power-sharing agreement is reached Wednesday then President Thabo Mbeki, the talks' mediator, should be given some credit for effective diplomacy, even though he said such diplomacy might have come in the final hour of the Zimbabwe crisis.