updated 10/19/2008 2:36:40 PM ET 2008-10-19T18:36:40

Zimbabwe will not bow to pressure but will seek advice from other African leaders on how it should form a power-sharing government, the chief negotiator for President Robert Mugabe's party was quoted Sunday as saying.

Patrick Chinamasa said Mugabe and opposition leaders are to meet Monday with the presidents of Angola, Mozambique and Swaziland in Mbabane, Swaziland. The three nations represent the Southern Africa Development Community, which has supported former South African President Thabo Mbeki's efforts to mediate Zimbabwe's political crisis.

A power-sharing deal signed Sept. 15 is deadlocked over which party gets control of the country's 31 ministries. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change narrowly won the March parliamentary elections and the June presidential runoff Mugabe claims to have won was derided by international observers as a sham.

"They can't impose anything on us, especially on such a small matter as the allocation of ministries," Chinamasa, who is also the justice minister, was quoted as saying by the state-run Sunday Mail newspaper.

Trying to hold onto too many posts?
The opposition has accused Mugabe of trying to hold onto too many key posts. In a widely condemned power-grab, Mugabe a week ago unilaterally claimed the most powerful posts for his own party, including defense and foreign affairs.

Mbeki left Harare early Saturday after four days of talks failed to resolve which 15 ministries Mugabe's ZANU party should get. Mbeki was to submit a report on the stalled negotiations to the three regional nations.

"All the principals and their negotiating teams are going. Delegations from the three parties will be called upon to clarify any issues. After this, the troika will guide us on the way forward," Chinamasa was quoted as saying.

Under the power-sharing deal, 13 Cabinet posts are to go to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's party and three others to a smaller opposition party led by Arthur Mutambara.

The Sunday Mail quoted Chinamasa saying Tsvangirai insisted on taking control of the home affairs ministry in charge of the police.

In its editorial comment, the newspaper said the breakdown of the talks was marked by disappointment, noting that Zimbabwe has spent seven months since the disputed elections in March without a functional government.

"Everything is in a state of paralysis," it said.

Staggering inflation
Zimbabwe is staggering amid the world's worst inflation, a looming humanitarian emergency and worsening shortages of food, gasoline and most basic goods. Inflation is at 231 million percent and the U.N. estimates that 45 percent of Zimbabwe's population, or 5.1 million people, will need food help by early 2009.

Tsvangirai said Saturday he was still determined to reach a power-sharing deal.

"Our objective is to bring this government, Mugabe in particular, to the negotiating table ... shouting and screaming but coming to the negotiating table," Tsvangirai told thousands of supporters in the country's second-largest city of Bulawayo.

"The biggest challenge we have is what has been left in this country. There is nothing. Zero," Tsvangirai said.

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


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