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Zimbabwe Official Says Mbeki Key to Power-Sharing Talks


A Zimbabwean official says South African President Thabo Mbeki will, in his words, "chart the way forward" in stalled power-sharing talks.

The chief negotiator for Zimbabwe's ruling party, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, told state media the country's feuding parties have held separate bilateral discussions with Mr. Mbeki in South Africa. He said the talks took place because Mr. Mbeki wanted to search for a way forward in Zimbabwe's political crisis.

A spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Nelson Chamisa, confirmed Sunday that MDC negotiators met Mr. Mbeki on Friday. He said the negotiators returned to Zimbabwe without any concrete developments.

The negotiations are stalled because of disagreements about how President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai could share power in a unity government.

On Saturday, a government-run newspaper The Herald reported that the ruling party has rejected the opposition's latest suggestion that the Mr. Mugabe and Tsvangirai co-chair the Cabinet.

The talks were prompted by international pressure to resolve the violent political crisis that evolved from Zimbabwe's contested presidential election in March.

Tsvangirai won more votes than Mr. Mugabe in the poll but failed to win a majority. Mr. Mugabe won a second round of voting in June after Tsvangirai boycotted the election to protest state-sponsored violence against his supporters.

Many Western countries and some of Zimbabwe's neighbors dismissed the run-off election as a sham and have refused to recognize Mr. Mugabe's government as legitimate.

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