Zimbabwe’s opposition to mull talks with MugabeJuly 18th, 2008 - 12:22 am ICT by IANS
Harare, July 17 (DPA) The process towards negotiating an end to the crisis in Zimbabwe is expected as the top body of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was due to meet to decide whether to enter into talks with President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU(PF) party. Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai’s faction of the party, confirmed that the party’s national executive was to “assess the progress on the negotiated settlement front.”
This included a “memorandum of understanding” setting out the aims and negotiating positions of the two parties, he said.
The signatures on the document of the leaders of Tsvangirai’s MDC, the smaller faction of the party led by robotics professor Arthur Mutambara and Mugabe are expected to signal the start of substantive talks.
However, Tsvangirai’s MDC has told the other two parties that it was still waiting for “clarification” on its demand that the African Union (AU) be involved in the talks.
An answer will only come Friday, after a meeting in South Afirca between President Thabo Mbeki, the Southern African Development Committee-appointed mediator between the three parties, and AU Executive Director Jean Ping.
The main MDC faction has openly expressed its dissatisfaction with Mbeki’s mediation, accusing him of bias towards Mugabe, and has insisted on “expanded mediation” involving the AU, a position rejected by ZANU(PF).
Moves towards a resumption of negotiations began shortly before the controversial run-off presidential elections June 27, as Tsvangirai withdrew from the race over a three-month wave of violence, and left Mugabe the “winner” of a one-man poll that was universally dismissed as illegitimate.
Details of the memorandum of understanding have not been released, but sources close to the talks said it was drawn up in South Africa last week at a meeting of representatives of the three parties.
In the document, the three groups assert that negotiations should lead to “an inclusive government”, to economic stability, the establishment of peace and security across the country and an end to the climate of acute political polarisation.
However, the differences in the positions of the MDC factions and ZANU(PF) expressed in the memorandum are so wide that observers believe there is little hope of agreement being reached in the two-week life of the negotiations established by the document.
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