Zimbabwe

Regional summit fails to break Zimbabwe deadlock

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By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE, Oct 27 (Reuters) - A regional summit failed to break a deadlock threatening a power-sharing accord in Zimbabwe on Monday, dashing hopes a deal could ease an economic crisis, officials said.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said no good news had emerged from the summit of the leaders of Mozambique, Angola, Swaziland and South Africa, who held talks with President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and two opposition factions.

The 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) called for an urgent full regional summit to make another attempt to break the deadlock in talks on forming a cabinet under the power-sharing accord.

SADC said the allocation of the Interior Ministry, which oversees the police force, was holding up progress in the negotiations between ZANU-PF and the two factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

"The extraordinary summit noted with concern disagreements in the allocation of the ministry ... and urged parties concerned to reach an agreement," said SADC.

SADC Executive Secretary Tomaz Salamao said the full regional meeting could be held this week or next week.

"I believe this is a matter of urgency," he told reporters.

SADC convened Monday's meeting amid fears the Sept. 15 power-sharing accord was about to unravel after weeks of fruitless negotiations between ZANU-PF and the two MDC factions.

Implementation of the accord is widely seen as vital to any effort to pull Zimbabwe out of a deep economic crisis. Inflation is out of control and food and fuel shortages are widespread in the once prosperous nation.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon "remains distressed" over the human cost of the stalemate, a U.N. statement said.

"He is deeply concerned that the population of Zimbabwe in both rural and urban areas faces many challenges, including critical shortages of all food, essential drugs, basic services, and clean water," said the statement.

"It is urgent to resolve the ongoing political impasse so that recovery can begin."

Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a presidential election on March 29 but by too few votes to avoid a run-off in June. Mugabe won the second round after Tsvangirai pulled out, saying his supporters had been subjected to violence and intimidation.

(Additional reporting by Cris Chinaka and Nelson Banya in Harare and Lou Charbonneau at the United Nations; Writing by Michael Georgy)

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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