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Uncertain Impact Of Pretoria Political Turmoil On Zimbabwe Situation

Resolution of the crisis in Zimbabwe seems likely to be hindered by the political crisis in Pretoria where South African President Thabo Mbeki, mediator in the talks that yielded the power-sharing arrangement in Harare, has stepped down as president under pressure from his African National Congress party.

Sources in Zimbabwe's former ruling ZANU-PF party and both formations of the majority Movement for Democratic Change say events in Pretoria will slow down the process in Harare. The three parties are concerned that Mr. Mbeki has lost his clout and a new government might limit his influence in various ways.

Meanwhile, following last week’s signature of a power-sharing accord, cooperation has hit a snag over the composition of the new government's cabinet.

ANC Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe is front runner to step in as interim president for the balance of Mr. Mbeki’s term until elections are held in April 2009. South Africa’s parliamentary speaker, Baleka Mbete, said the swearing in of a new president will take place on Thursday, following the interim president's election by parliament.

ANC Secretary General Gwede Manthashe told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the party has recommended Motlanthe for the position.

Executive Secretary Tomaz Salamao of the Southern African Development Community said the SADC committee on politics that appointed Mbeki will take its cue from Pretoria in deciding whether Mr. Mbeki should continue as Zimbabwe mediator.

In Harare, meanwhile, the logjam over ministerial portfolios remained unresolved. The principals in the power-sharing deal referred the question to the negotiators of the accord, who have in turn issued their recommendations to the principals.

But with President Robert Mugabe in New York for the United Nations General Assembly there is little immediate prospect for the formation of a cabinet.

Amidst stalled power-sharing, the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai expressed dismay Monday that state media continue to attack the party's leadership despite clauses in the accord prohibiting this.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai formation told reporter Zulu that the media attacks are contrary to the spirit of national engagement in the accord.

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