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Zimbabwe Opposition Sets Jan. 18 Meeting On Future of Power-Sharing

Zimbabwean opposition leader and prime minister designate Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday completed what party sources say was a consultative meeting with his party's top leaders in South Africa, setting a Jan. 18 meeting of his Movement for Democratic Change formation's national executive to decide whether to pursue or abandon power-sharing talks.

Talks on entering into a national unity government with the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe have been stalled almost since a Sept. 15 accord was signed.

One MDC insider dismissed a report in the state-controlled Herald newspaper as to a rift in the party on how to proceed, saying the session of the standing committee, which includes Tsvangirai and his inner political circle, bolstered party cohesion. Sources said the meeting examined strategies in the event President Mugabe should unilaterally form a government without Tsvangirai's participation, or if a new presidential election should be called.

An MDC spokesman officially denied the meeting took place, but party sources said that the standing committee endorsed Tsvangirai’s long-held position that MDC demands for cabinet seats and other key posts must be equitably distributed for the party to join the proposed unity government, which Mr. Mugabe aims to put in place by the end of February.

The Jan. 18 national executive meeting will set the official position, the sources added.

While noncommittal about the Johannesburg meeting, Tsvangirai MDC Spokesman Nelson Chamisa told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that his party remains united and resolute on its power-sharing demands.

Also in Johannesburg today, Civicus, a world alliance of civil society organizations, released a damning report and film on what it described as state-engineered suffering in Zimbabwe.

Civicus undertook a week-long fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe that ended on Christmas Eve, correspondent Benedict Nhlapho reported from Johannesburg.

More news from VOA's Studio Seven for Zimbabwe...