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Fresh Hurdles in Zimbabwe's New Constitution Quest

Confusion has rocked Zimbabwe's long delayed constitution-making process that seemed to gain new ground last week with the three major parties running the exercise failing to agree on the way forward.

Conflicting statements have emerged from figureheads running the constitution-making process from both President Robert Mugabe's former ruling Zanu-PF party and the two Movement for Democratic Change formations - each giving contradictory statements regarding the way forward after the second draft was completed.

The National Executive Council of the MDC formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai met on Saturday and endorsed the draft only for Mr. Tsvangirai and his fellow principals to meet Monday and declare that the document is still up for discussion.

The Standing Committee of the party met Monday and Mr. Tsvangirai was said to be unhappy about a president choosing two running mates and the ballooning number of parliamentarians.

But the negotiators in his party are said to be uncomfortable about re-opening the discussions.

Zanu-PF which is demanding a raft of reforms is meeting Wednesday in another special politburo session.

Copac co-chairman Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana of Zanu-PF told VOA that negotiations are still in progress.

But his counterpart Edward Mkhosi of the MDC formation led by Industry minister Welshman Ncube said there is no going back on the draft.

Meanwhile, correspondent Irwin Chifera reports that parliamentary constitutional select committee co-chairman Douglas Mwonzora of the MDC formation of Mr. Tsvangirai told a Southern African Development Community media and civil society meeting that the committee expects more than 80 percent of voters to endorse the draft document in the forthcoming referendum.