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Zimbabwe Opposition Lays Down Conditions For Ballot Participation

Both factions of Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change have resolved not to participate in the presidential election scheduled for 2008 unless the constitution has been redrafted and wide-ranging electoral reforms are instituted.

All national elections since the 2002 presidential election have been disputed. Alleged fraud in that presidential election led the United States and the European Union to impose sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle.

The Zanu-PF Central Committee was set to meet on Wednesday to decide whether to take steps to postpone next year’s presidential ballot to 2010, when a general election is due. But Insiders said the session might be held Friday when Mugabe will be back from a summit of the Southern African Development Community in Tanzania.

The national executive of the MDC faction led by party founder Morgan Tsvangirai is meeting on Saturday and is expected to endorse the decision not to contest elections unless the opposition has some assurance they will be free and fair.

Secretary General Tendai Biti of the Tsvangirai faction told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that sweeping reforms are indispensable.

Rival faction leader Arthur Mutambara said the opposition is tired of contesting rigged elections and that upcoming critical elections must be internationally monitored.

ZANU-PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira his party doesn't comment on MDC plans.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...