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Inter-Party Talks On New Zimbabwe Cabinet Said To Have Quickly Deadlocked

Discussions about the composition of Zimbabwe's new cabinet held Thursday by President Robert Mugabe, prime minister designate Morgan Tsvangirai and future deputy prime minister Arthur Mutambara failed to produce the hoped for list of names, instead deadlocking over which party would control certain key ministries, sources said.

Political analysts said they saw trouble coming after Mr. Mugabe in remarks to members of his ZANU-PF central committee, said it was “humiliating” to be obliged to govern in partnership with the Movement for Democratic Change, long in opposition.

Sources informed on the meeting at State House in Harare said Mr. Mugabe informed Tsvangirai and Mutambara that he wanted control of all of the key ministries and a clear majority of provincial governors and ambassadors.

Portfolios ZANU-PF considers critical include Defense, Home Affairs, Finance, Agriculture, Information, State Security, Mines, Local Government and Justice.

Officials of Tsvangirai's MDC officials have indicated they see control of Home Affairs as important, as this would allow for progressive reform of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, along with Finance, a key conduit for hoped-for inflows from international donors. Control of the Ministry of Agriculture will be essential to re-establishing domestic food security.

Mr. Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara referred the dispute back to the negotiators of the power-sharing accord for further discussion. It is uncertain when a cabinet can be named as President Mugabe was said to be planning to leave the country on Friday for the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.

However, Mutambara said in an interview with VOA that all but a few of the portfolios have been allocated, and that consultations continue.

But spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai MDC formation told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the talks have stalled.

ZANU-PF chief parliamentary whip Joram Gumbo dismissed reports of dissension in the party's central committee, asserting in an interview that its members had been unanimously in support of the power-sharing agreement

For perspective on the reported deadlock, Blessing spoke with Professor John Makumbe of the University of Zimbabwe, who said ZANU-PF is negotiating in bad faith.

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