Power-sharing even as a short-term solution to the deep political crisis in Zimbabwe looked on its last legs Tuesday though regional leaders who failed Monday to broker a deal between President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai had punted the matter to an extraordinary summit of the Southern African Development Community.
Tsvangirai himself expressed deep disappointment on emerging from 10 hours of talks which failed to bring any compromises by Mr. Mugabe on outstanding issues that have prevented implementation of the power-sharing deal they both signed last Sept. 15.
The so-called Global Political Agreement was also signed by Arthur Mutambara, head of a rival formation of the Movement for Democratic Change which Tsvangirai founded in 1999.
Tsvangirai told reporters that it was "probably the darkest day of our lives," suggesting that he did not see much hope an agreement would crystallize at the SADC summit to be held on Monday in Gaborone, Botswana, where SADC's headquarters are located, or in South Africa, whose president, Kgalema Motlanthe, is currently chairman of the organization.
Motlanthe attended the fruitless talks as did President Armando Guebuza of Mozambique and Zimbabwe crisis mediator Thabo Mbeki, South African president until last September.
Most observers saw Monday's session as a make-or-break confrontation between Mr. Mugabe and Tsvangirai, but SADC Secretary General Tomaz Salomao late Monday was at pains to cushion disappointment by framing the talks as an ongoing SADC process.
But SADC organized a similar summit in October in South Africa which failed to bring the two Zimbabwean leaders any closer together.
Correspondent Irwin Chifera of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported from Harare on the aftermath of Monday's unsuccessful last-ditch negotiating session.
Some observers said it was the end of the road for power-sharing in Zimbabwe.
But independent analyst Hermann Hanekom of Cape Town told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the fact that both Mugabe and Tsvangirai are going to the SADC summit on Monday means there is still hope for a resolution of the crisis.