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European Union Forms Troika to Manage Normalization of Ties With Harare

As Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai wraps up a three-week re-engagement and fund-raising tour of Western capitals, the European Union has established a troika or working group to engage Harare and normalize relations between Zimbabwe and the EU.

But political analysts warn that tensions between Mr. Tsvangirai’s Movement For Democratic Change and President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF could hinder that process.

The EU troika includes the Swedish and Czech ambassadors to Zimbabwe along with the European Union’s representative in Harare. The Zimbabwean government will be represented by top officials from the foreign and finance ministries, among others.

Mr. Tsvangirai’s MDC formation this week said it is lodging a complaint with the Southern African Development Community, a guarantor of the power-sharing arrangement, that ZANU-PF is mounting a crackdown on its members in violation of the global political agreement.

The power-sharing partners also differ on how a new constitution should be drafted. There is already discord between the government and civic groups on the revision process.

President Mugabe told the ZANU-PF central committee on Wednesday that the new constitution must be “guided” by the so-called Kariba compromise constitutional draft written by MDC and ZANU-PF party officials aboard a houseboat in the Zambezi River town in 2007.

Tsvangirai MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said Mr. Mugabe’s remarks reflected “wishful thinking" as to how the country's basic document should be modified.

Mr. Mugabe also urged Mr. Tsvangirai to demand of his Western interlocutors that they lift the sanctions imposed on him and his inner circle for the better part of a decade.

Mr. Tsvangirai was in Paris on Wednesday for the final stop in his diplomatic voyage. He was scheduled to meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday.

Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube of the MDC formation led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that normalization of relations with the European Union is a priority.

Political analyst Pedzisayi Ruhanya said reforms in Harare – not talks with the EU - are most needed to return Zimbabwe to the community of nations.

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