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Zimbabwe Power-Sharing Still Deadlocked After Two Days Of Mediation

A second day of mediated power-sharing talks among the leaders of Zimbabwe's main political parties concluded Wednesday with some signs of progress towards resolving a deadlock over the composition of the cabinet for a proposed national unity government.

Sources close to the negotiations at the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare said mediator and former South African president Thabo Mbeki, who brokered the agreement signed one month ago to the day on Sept. 15, moderated talks among President Robert Mugabe, prime minister-in-waiting Morgan Tsvangirai, and deputy prime minister-designate Arthur Mutambara.

Tsvangirai told reporters after the negotiating session that the talks would continue Thursday as the participants had failed to come to a compromise. He told journalists that the proceedings had been, in his words, "quite circuitous."

But Mr. Mugabe said the leaders had made progress and would finish Thursday. Tsvangirai's lead negotiator, Tendai Biti, also said a deal could fall into place on Thursday.

Sources in Mr. Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and the Movement for Democratic Change said talks on Wednesday focused on control of the Finance and Home Affairs ministries.

ZANU-PF had indicated it wanted discussions to be limited to the Finance Ministry, but the MDC objected and Home Affairs was also put in the table, sources said. A senior ZANU-PF official told VOA the ZANU-PF politiburo was not willing to concede the Finance Ministry.

But a compromise was mooted whereby the Finance Minister might come from the dominant Tsvangirai MDC formation, but would have a ZANU-PF deputy as well as one drawn from the Mutambara MDC grouping. A ZANU-PF minister would have two MDC deputies.

Mute MDC, the minister would have a ZANU-PF deputy as well as one from the Mutambara MDC grouping. If the minister comes from ZANU-PF, there would be deputies from both MDC formations.

Acting Associate Campaigns Director Briggs Bomba of Africa Action told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mr. Mugabe feels that he must control the Home Affairs Ministry and the police that depend from it, to maintain his control through coercion.

U.S. State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said Tuesday that American officials hope to see power-sharing take hold, but for now see "a real bump in the road" in that process.

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