London, Aug.13 : Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has claimed that it has inked a power-sharing deal with a dissident faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to create a new government in Zimbabwe.
According to The Daily Telegraph, the agreement with Arthur Mutambara is expected to sideline Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the main MDC bloc, who beat Mr Mugabe in the first round of the presidential election in March, taking just short of 50 per cent of the vote.
A senior Zanu-PF official had earlier was quoted as saying that: "We, and the MDC headed by Mutambara have signed the agreement.
"Tsvangirai did not sign the agreement because he is basically trying to take us back, to renegotiate issues that we had already agreed on. We are proceeding, and the president is going to form a government of national unity including members of the opposition," he added
He said his party would not be "held hostage" by Tsvangirai, and insisted that parliament would be convened next week.
The move is expected to lead to the creation of a new government and close the door to further negotiations with Tsvangirai.
Negotiations between Mugabe and the two MDC faction leaders have been stymied over the key question of executive authority.
If the report of a deal is confirmed, it would represent a stunning coup for octogenarian Mugabe, splitting the opposition and reaffirming the political skills that have kept him in power for over three decades.
But while it might help keep Mugabe and the Zanu-PF in office, it would do nothing to solve Zimbabwe's myriad problems.
As such it would be a humiliation for Thabo Mbeki, the South African president tasked with mediating the talks between the government and the opposition.
Western countries have hinted at a multi-billion-pound reconstruction package if Mugabe accepts a genuine power sharing government.
But any deal that cuts Tsvangirai out would eliminate the prospect of foreign aid.