South African President Thabo Mbeki has said he is within days of finalizing a political accord between Zimbabwe’s ruling party and opposition covering all issues needed to ensure free and fair elections, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said Tuesday.
Ahern, leading a trade delegation to South Africa, briefed journalists in Pretoria about his conversation with Mbeki and Deputy President Phumuzie Mlambo-Ngcuka.
Mbeki provided a comprehensive review of the negotiations "and the work towards the political documents where all of these elements that have been worked through will form the [content] of the political document," Ahern told journalists.
Mbeki "would, in days, be engaged in the final aspects of this," Ahern added.
The Irish premier cautioned that Mbeki admitted there were still sticking points in the talks, but had said that he was determined to work through those points.
Senior officials in Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition also reported substantive progress in recent sessions, but declined to say more about the nature of the gains, explaining that they did not want to jeopardize the sensitive discussions.
ZANU-PF and MDC negotiators flew to Pretoria on Sunday and returned to Harare on Tuesday for the opening of parliament, among other reasons.
Political analyst Sydney Masamvu of the International Crisis Group told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that maintaining secrecy would allow negotiators to brief their principals before announcing any agreements.
More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...