updated 9/30/2008 5:43:00 PM ET 2008-09-30T21:43:00

Zimbabwe's opposition leader and President Robert Mugabe met Tuesday but failed to break a deadlock on dividing Cabinet posts to finalize a power-sharing agreement, leaving the country mired in its economic and political crisis.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is appealing to African leaders to intervene in the impasse, said Nelson Chamisa, a spokesman for Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change.

Through the Southern African Development Community and the African Union, leaders have guaranteed the power-sharing agreement, which the bitter rivals signed Sept. 15 to end an electoral crisis. Since then they have failed to agree on how to share Cabinet portfolios.

Chamisa said Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party want the posts for finance, defense, foreign affairs and home affairs, which includes charge of the police who have terrorized the opposition.

"It would appear that they do not understand power-sharing," Chamisa told The Associated Press after the meeting with Zimbabwe's ruler for 28 years. "At the end of the meeting it emerged we are still poles apart, with Zanu-PF insisting on taking all the key ministries, literally rendering the (opposition) peripheral in government — in fact a situation where we would be in but out of government."

Mugabe, who made no comment, returned home Monday from a 10-day trip to the United Nations and promised a coalition government would be named this week.

In an interview at the U.N., he denied that the negotiations were deadlocked.

He came home to massive queues at banks, with tens of thousands lining up the day banking authorities raised the daily withdrawal limit from 1,000 Zimbabwean dollars — barely enough to buy a newspaper — to 20,000 Zimbabwe dollars ($35).

The crowds spilled off sidewalks and blocked traffic outside some banks.

People are desperate to access their money to buy groceries that can go up in the time it takes you to put them in a shopping basket. Officially, inflation is running at 11 million percent, but it is much higher in fact.

Tsvangirai won most votes in March elections but not enough to avoid a runoff against Mugabe. The 84-year-old unleashed a campaign of violence that forced Tsvangirai to withdraw from the runoff vote, in which Mugabe declared himself the victor. More than 100 opposition members were killed, thousands of people had limbs broken and tens of thousands were left homeless in the violence perpetrated by soldiers, police and Mugabe party militants.

Mugabe says the opposition is responsible for the violence. Hundreds of opposition supporters remain jailed.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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