Zimbabwe's political leaders held talks with South African President Thabo Mbeki in a Harare hotel, amid hopes the leaders may emerge with a power sharing deal aimed at ending the country's political, economic and social crisis. The focus of Sunday's meetings is the composition of any future power sharing government, and who will wield executive power. Marathon session of talks Sunday ended without agreement on a power-sharing deal. After the talks broke up for the night President Robert Mugabe said the parties would meet again Monday. This report from Peta Thornycroft in Harare and VOA's Delia Robertson at our southern Africa bureau in Johannesburg.
Will Robert Mugabe remain president but be reduced to a political figurehead with real power resting in the hands of Morgan Tsvangirai in a new post of executive prime minister? Will overall executive authority be retained by Mr. Mugabe? Or will the final agreement reached between Zimbabwe's political leaders be a leadership arrangement somewhere in between the two?
No one, except those directly engaged in Sunday's talks, knows what deal is being discussed in Harare. The confidentiality demanded of participants in the talks by the South African leader has been largely observed.
Even so, it is widely understood that accord on much of the agenda agreed to just three weeks ago has been reached. It was left to party officials themselves to make the decisions on how executive authority will be divided.
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, won more votes than President Mugabe in the first round of the presidential race in March, in an election widely viewed as generally free and fair. But he failed to garner a majority necessary to win outright.
Mr. Mugabe won the uncontested presidential runoff race in June - but all observer groups in that election said it failed to meet African election standards, and did not reflect the will of Zimbabwean voters.
In the period between the two polls, humanitarian organizations said supporters of Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party supported by the police and military, launched a campaign of violence against opposition supporters, in which more than one hundred people were killed, hundreds severely injured and thousands displaced. That violence has largely disappeared now.
Analysts caution that whatever deal is reached by Zimbabwe's political leaders, in order for it to work, it will have to be endorsed by the country's powerful security establishment.
Meanwhile, with an official inflation rate of over two million percent, the economy continues to decline at an exponential rate. Just this past week, some Zimbabweans opted for barter rather than the Zimbabwe dollar and sold vehicles in exchange for gasoline coupons.