Negotiators for Zimbabwe's ZANU-PF and Movement for Democratic Change parties held lengthy consultations by telephone on Thursday in an effort to break a deadlock over the composition of the cabinet for the unity government the parties agreed to last month, sources close to the discussions said.

A well-informed source in President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF told VOA that the party has moved toward a resolution of the apparent stalemate by ceding the Ministry of Finance to the MDC formation of Morgan Tsvangirai, designated as prime minister.

The source said Mr. Mugabe met top ZANU-PF officials today, among them party strategist Emmerson Mnangagwa, otherwise rural housing minister, and Patrick Chinamasa, currently minister of justice, and agreed to concede the finance portfolio.

The source could not shed light on the disposition of other major portfolios, such as home affairs, foreign affairs, agriculture and information.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai MDC formation said he had no information as to a concession by ZANU-PF on the critical finance post. Most observers have concluded that the ministry must end up in MDC hands or international donors will be reluctant to bring to the country the billions of dollars required to launch economic reconstruction.

Chamisa confirmed, however, that a meeting of the Tsvangirai MDC national executive set for Thursday had been postponed. Sources said the meeting had been called to decide whether the party should pull out of the power-sharing process due to Mr. Mugabe's failure to name a cabinet in which the key posts are equitably distributed.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper quoted Chinamasa, ZANU-PF's chief negotiator, as saying offices in the Monomotapa government building were ready for Tsvangirai.

Political analyst George Mkwananzi told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the statement from Chinamasa suggested that ZANU-PF is concerned that the hard-won agreement for a national unity government might unravel.

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