HARARE, August 14 – Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and the head of an opposition faction agreed on terms to form a new government after the main opposition leader balked at the deal, state media reported Thursday.
The report in the Herald government mouthpiece came with main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai facing heavy pressure to sign a deal in talks to end Zimbabwe’s political crisis.
Tsvangirai refused to sign a final agreement and demanded that a new government be based on the first round of presidential elections in March, when he finished ahead of Mugabe, the Herald reported.
After he refused the deal, Mugabe and Arthur Mutambara, the head of a smaller opposition faction, agreed on the outstanding issues, the government mouthpiece said.
"It is understood that President Mugabe and Mutambara subsequently agreed on these issues, paving the way for … Mugabe to form a new government and for the seventh parliament to start sitting following elections held earlier in the year," it said.
The paper, quoting sources close to the talks, added that "Tsvangirai … would be accommodated in the new government when he was ready to sign."
Mutambara had said Wednesday that no deal had been signed between his camp and Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party.
South African President Thabo Mbeki mediated three days of talks between the rivals earlier this week that broke up to give Tsvangirai what he called "time to consider".
Tsvangirai has refused to discuss details of the talks, but issued a statement Wednesday saying he remained "committed to reaching an agreement that upholds the will of the people."
Referring to the the first round of the presidential election, Tsvangirai said: "We are committed to a solution that recognises that the people spoke on the 29th of March 2008."
The Herald called Tsvangirai’s demand a "cornerstone of Western opposition to Zimbabwe’s electoral processes."
Tsvangirai boycotted the June 27 presidential run-off, citing escalating violence against his supporters, and Mugabe pushed ahead as the only candidate, handing himself a new term as president.
The run-off was widely condemned internationally as a sham.