Mugabe threatens to break off talks with opposition

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Harare, Jan.19 (ANI): Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe on Sunday threatened to break off power-sharing talks with the opposition, if the latter's leader Morgan Tsvangirai declined to sign a deal in their next meeting.

The bitter rivals are set to meet today for talks mediated by South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, who hopes to salvage a unity accord, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Ordinary Zimbabweans continue to suffer due to the political stalemate, with half the population dependent on food aid, and facing astronomical levels of hyperinflation. A cholera epidemic is also sweeping unchecked across the country.

"This is the occasion when it's either they accept or it's a break. We have gone past negotiations and whatever concessions were there to be made have already been made," Mugabe said in the Sunday Mail newspaper, the government mouthpiece.

The agreement, which was signed in September last year, calls for 84-year-old Mugabe to remain president while Tsvangirai would take the new post of prime minister. But they have yet to agree on how to share power within cabinet despite repeated interventions by African leaders.

Since leaders of the 15-nation South African Development Community (SADC) failed at a November summit to break the impasse, Tsvangirai has spent more than two months outside the country trying to lobby international support.

He returned to Zimbabwe on Saturday, and was meeting with the leadership of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on Sunday to hammer out the party's stance ahead of the talks.

The newspaper warned in an editorial that Mugabe could form a government with his ZANU-PF party.

On the other hand, Tsvangirai argues that his party should hold more influence in government, after the MDC won a majority in parliament and he defeated Mugabe during a first-round presidential vote in March.

The result unleashed a brutal wave of political violence, leaving over 180 people dead, mostly MDC supporters, according to Amnesty International.(ANI)

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