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Implementation Schedule Latest Sticking Point In Zimbabwe Crisis Talks

Talks between Zimbabwe's ruling party and its opposition were said to be hanging in the balance with President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF formation, having made some key concessions, insisting the accords be signed only after March 2008 elections.

Sources close to the South African-brokered talks said ZANU-PF officials have asked President Thabo Mbeki to consider the talks a work in progress so the elections can go ahead in March, insisting time is too short for implementation by then.

The sources expressed confidence that Mr. Mbeki would be able to resolve the latest impasse in the talks. Parties to the talks have set Dec. 15 as a new target date for completion of the negotiations, which have been in progress for eight months.

Negotiators said they may push the date back again if agreement eludes them.

Tapera Kapuya, a fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe he believes Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party was never negotiating in good faith in the first place.

ZANU-PF agreed to the talks under pressure from the Southern African Development Community, which called an extraordinary summit after an upsurge of political violence in Zimbabwe in March in which one opposition activist was shot to death and MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai was severely beaten in police custody. The regional organization at that summit handed Mr. Mbeki his brief to mediate the talks.

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