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Zimbabwe's Opposition to Appeal for Help with Crisis Talks

Zimbabwe's main opposition party is planning to appeal to South Africa's president to help save power-sharing talks with Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe.

The opposition's secretary-general, Tendai Biti, says his party will lodge a formal protest with South Africa's Thabo Mbeki over Mr. Mugabe's plans to form a government without the opposition.

Mr. Mbeki has been mediating talks between the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and Mr. Mugabe's ruling party to try to establish a unity government.

The MDC says Mr. Mugabe violated the rules of their negotiations by opening parliament Tuesday without its consent.

Ruling party spokesman Bright Matonga dismissed the MDC's objections Thursday. He said Mr. Mugabe's decision to form a government follows the mandate he was given by the South African Development Community.

The MDC has sent Mr. Mugabe a petition saying it does not recognize his presidency because their power-sharing talks have not concluded.

The talks are stalled because of disagreements about how to divide power between Mr. Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

The parties opened talks following the country's disputed presidential elections.

Tsvangirai finished first but failed to win a majority in a first round of voting in March. Mr. Mugabe won a runoff election in June after Tsvangirai boycotted the vote to protest state-sanctioned attacks on his party's members.

Mr. Mugabe has kept a strong grip on power since 1980. The opposition party rallied unprecedented support in the March elections in part because of Zimbabwe's chronic food shortages and soaring unemployment and inflation rates.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.