Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe says he will begin forming a new government unless the opposition agrees to sign a power-sharing agreement Thursday.

Zimbabwe's state-run "Herald" newspaper quotes Mr. Mugabe as saying he will "certainly" appoint a new Cabinet if opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai does not commit to a deal by the end of the day.

Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said earlier this week that negotiations with the ruling ZANU-PF party are deadlocked.  Tsvangirai rejected a proposal that he said would leave Mr. Mugabe in control of Zimbabwe's security services.

An MDC spokesman, Nelson Chamisa, said today that any attempt to force the party into an agreement would fail.

In a related development, the office of South African President Thabo Mbeki has denied a report that he will travel to Zimbabwe today.  He has been mediating the power-sharing talks.

Zimbabwe has been mired in political turmoil since the disputed presidential elections earlier this year.

Tsvangirai won the first round of voting in March but fell short of a majority.  The MDC leader then pulled out of the June runoff election to protest state-sponsored violence against his supporters.

Mr. Mugabe won the runoff but many Western countries and some of Zimbabwe's neighbors dismissed it as a sham and have refused to recognize Mr. Mugabe's government as legitimate.

The power-sharing talks were prompted by international pressure to resolve the political crisis so Zimbabwe can begin to recover from its economic collapse.

Food and fuel shortages have helped drive the country's annual inflation rate to an estimated 11 million percent, and forced millions of Zimbabweans to flee to neighboring countries.



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