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Zimbabwe Ruling Party, Opposition, Said To Co-Draft New Constitution

Negotiators for Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party and its opposition in talks mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki have compiled the draft of a new national constitution for consideration by all parties concerned, reports and sources said.

The Zimbabwe Independent, a weekly newspaper, reported Friday that the delegates to the crisis talks endorsed a draft constitution on September 30 on a houseboat in Kariba, a resort town on Zimbabwe's northern border with Zambia.

The paper added that the new constitution is a hybrid of the government draft of 2000 which voters rejected in a referendum, a draft co-written by ruling party and opposition officials in 2003 and 2004, and one by the National Constitutional Assembly. The civic group has insisted that a new constitution is the key to resolving the crisis.

But the latest draft must pass muster with all political parties and civil society. NCA officials have expressed reservations about the new draft constitution. NCA sources said the draft constitution must be submitted to the electorate for approval.

NCA spokesman Maddock Chivasa told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that if the parties to the talks agree on a new constitution without consulting the Zimbabwean people, the NCA will reject the document.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change angered many civic activists when it voted with the ruling party in September to pass legislation for an amendment to the existing constitution that made sweeping changes in the electoral dispensation.

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