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Zimbabwe Parties Maneuver Before Reopening of Parliament

Zimbabwe's main political parties are maneuvering for position and tension is on the rise in the run-up to the scheduled reopening of parliament next Tuesday.

The Movement for Democratic Change formation of Morgan Tsvangirai warned that reopening parliament before a power-sharing deal is reached could scuttle the talks. But the formation is expected to see its members sworn in Monday and attend the reopening Tuesday.

President Robert Mugabe’s hopes of forming a coalition government with the MDC grouping led by Arthur Mutambara appeared Friday to have been dashed – formation members were threatening to jump to the Tsvangirai formation if such an alliance were proposed.

The Mutambara MDC leadership had tried to justify an alliance with Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF saying Tsvangirai was rigid and unreasonable in the now-stalled power-sharing talks.

But sources told VOA the Mutambara leadership had to assure its parliamentarians-elect at a meeting on Wednesday that they would not join hands with Mr. Mugabe.

Sources in the formation reported a lengthy debate amidst charges Mutambara had signed a "sell-out" deal to join Mugabe and abandon former opposition partner Tsvangirai.

There was general speculation that Mr. Mugabe, having recalled parliament, would attempt to appoint a cabinet and form a government with the help of the Mutambara formation.

The grouping has put forth the name of Paul Themba Nyathi as candidate for speaker of the house, while refusing to back a candidate from the Tsvangirai grouping. But MPs from the Mutambara formation told VOA they were willing to support a Tsvangirai candidate.

Mutambara MDC Secretary General Welshman Ncube told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that his grouping is better positioned than the formation led by Tsvangirai to secure the post of speaker in a hung parliament.

Meanwhile, war veteran leader Jabulani Sibanda weighed in on the question of reconvening parliament, telling the state-controlled Herald newspaper that President Mugabe won the June 27 presidential run-off election, thus recalling parliament is his prerogative.

Tsvangirai had warned that if Mr. Mugabe did recall parliament, the power-sharing talks under way since July could collapse. Some argued that this is Mr. Mugabe’s intention, as Tsvangirai is demanding powers as prospective prime minister that Mr. Mugabe is loath to concede.

Sibanda told the Herald that Tsvangirai is merely a “protégé” of the United States and Britain , which he charged are seeking to bring about illegal regime change.

Elsewhere, South African President Thabo Mbeki was to attempt to relaunch power-sharing negotiations once the Zimbabwean parliament has convened, sources said.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...