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Resolution Of Zimbabwe Power-Sharing Impasse Remains Elusive

A third day of mediated talks aimed at putting Zimbabwe's deadlocked political power-sharing deal back on track ended late Thursday without a breakthrough on how parties led by President Robert Mugabe and prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai will share out key cabinet posts.

But mediator and former South African president Thabo Mbeki was said to have made some headway in bring Mugabe and Tsvangirai closer to an agreement on allocating key ministries in order to form a national unity government that can move with dispatch to relieve an increasingly distressed population and take steps to resuscitate the economy.

Mr. Mugabe and Tsvangirai, founder of the Movement for Democratic Change, are the main protagonists in the marathon negotiations reminiscent of the earlier July-September talks that yielded the power-sharing agreement with Mbeki's help. But deputy prime minister-designate Arthur Mutambara, leader of the lesser MDC formation, is also at the table.

Talks on Thursday focused on the Ministry of Finance – perhaps the most critical of all at this point given the need for a massive injection of international donor assistance – and the Home Affairs Ministry, which oversees the Zimbabwe Republic Police.

Sources said compromise solutions were proposed and rejected, such as handing the Finance Ministry to the Mutambara MDC formation, an idea Tsvangirai rejected, or having the position of Home Affairs minister rotate between ZANU-PF and the two MDC groupings, which was also a non-starter. Tsvangirai was said to have threatened to refer the dispute to the Southern African Development Community, a guarantor of the power-sharing deal.

For an update on the high-stakes talks at the Rainbow Towers Hotel reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with correspondent Irwin Chifera.

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