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SADC Says Mbeki Remains Mediator for Zimbabwe Talks


The Southern African Development Community (SADC) says South African President Thabo Mbeki will remain the mediator for talks on Zimbabwe's political crisis.

Mr. Mbeki agreed to resign as South African president after the ruling African Congress party called on him to do so Saturday.

But a spokesman for the 15-nation SADC, Charles Mubita, says Mr. Mbeki was chosen as mediator for the Zimbabwe talks because of his knowledge of the situation and leadership skills, not because he was a sitting president.

Zimbabwe's power-sharing talks stalled last week after political leaders failed to reach agreement on the composition of the cabinet.

The top U.S. envoy to Africa, Jendayi Frazer, says Washington is watching the talks closely and is prepared to impose new sanctions if Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe reneges on his commitment to a power-sharing government.

There has been no progress reported in the Zimbabwe power-sharing talks since they bogged down last Thursday.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change Nelson Chamisa has said Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party is trying to claim "all the powerful ministries," including local government, finance and defense.

The power-sharing deal signed September 15 calls for ZANU-PF to hold 15 Cabinet positions in a national unity government. The MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai would get 13 posts, while a smaller MDC faction would get the other three posts.

The agreement calls for Mr. Mugabe to remain president and head of state, with Tsvangirai becoming prime minister. Arthur Mutambara, the head of the smaller MDC faction, would become deputy prime minister.

Zimbabwe has been without an official government for months following disputed presidential elections.

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

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