Despite earlier hopeful signs, the month-long standoff between Zimbabwe’s political parties over the implementation of a power-sharing deal continued after three days of talks between President Robert Mugabe and his arch-rival Morgan Tsvangirai.

“We’ve reached a deadlock on the issue of allocating outstanding ministries,” Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for spokesman for Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), told reporters outside the Harare hotel, where former South African president Thabo Mbeki has been brokering multi-party talks since Tuesday.

Mugabe said he was “hopeful for a breakthrough.” “MDC has their position and we have ours,” the president said. “What we need is a compromise on both sides.” Chamisa said up to ten ministries were still in dispute and that the MDC had referred the matter back to Mbeki.

“There has been some movement but not enough to seal the deal,” he said.

“We are hoping tomorrow the process will continue to try and find a resolution to the outstanding issues,” Chamisa said.

On September 15, Mugabe, Tsvangirai and MDC splinter faction leader Arthur Mutambara signed an agreement to end the near-decade- long political turmoil in the country by forming a unity government.

But the accord has become bogged down in squabbling over the sharing of cabinet posts between their parties.

Under the deal, Zanu-PF is to get 15 of 31 ministries, Tsvangirai’s MDC faction 13 and Mutambara’s three.

At the weekend Mugabe was insisting on holding all the key ministries, prompting Tsvangirai to threaten to pull out of the deal.

Tsvangirai’s party has the most seats in parliament.

A senior member of Tsvangirai’s faction said Thursday night the only gain made by the party over the three days was the finance ministry.

“Finance is sorted,” the source said.

Tsvangirai is still trying to gain control of the home affairs ministry, which controls the police. The party has indicated he is happy for Zanu-PF to retain defence.

Zimbabweans had been fervently hoping for a breakthrough that would allow a new government to be installed to begin addressing the economic collapse.

Mugabe-critical Western governments have pledged millions of dollars in aid to Zimbabwe but are withholding the bulk of the funding until a government in which the MDC has significant powers is put in place.