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Zimbabwe Draft Constitution Circulated To Mugabe, Political Leaders

Leaders of Zimbabwe's major parties including President Robert Mugabe, who heads the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, and faction leaders of the Movement for Democratic Change have officially received copies of a draft constitution put together by their negotiators in South African-mediated crisis talks.

Sources said ZANU-PF negotiators are tacitly calling for a government of national unity, but MDC negotiators want to see the country shift away from the executive presidency to a traditional parliamentary model with a prime minister.

Ruling party and opposition sources said that the draft constitution would only limit the president to two five-year terms and also features a U.S.-style bill of rights.

Despite these developments, there is concern in some quarters that the question of Western sanctions could derail the crisis resolution process. Ruling party negotiators insist the MDC must lobby the U.S. and other nations to lift their targeted sanctions.

Opposition negotiators say they are not in a position to do this, but sources said that a compromise might be reached whereby South Africa and Zimbabwe's opposition might convince the Western nations imposing sanctions on President Mugabe and his inner circle to lift them temporarily to keep the crisis-resolution process on track.

Negotiators this week are also to take up the precise date for next year's elections.

The opposition is calling for the local, general and presidential ballots to be pushed off if the accords reached in Pretoria cannot be implemented in time for the elections to be held in March as proposed by the ruling party and President Mugabe.

Senior Researcher Chris Maroleng of the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he considers the compromise draft constitution to be a step in the right direction.

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