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Zimbabwe Opposition Factions Differ Over Threat To Exit Crisis Resolution Talks

With pressure mounting on the principals in the Zimbabwe crisis resolution talks that South Africa is mediating, tensions have arisen between the country's two opposition factions over a threat issued this week by the formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai to pull out of the talks if the ruling party does not embrace sweeping political reform.

As reported by VOA on Tuesday, authoritative sources in the Tsvangirai faction of the Movement for Democratic Change expressed doubts about the sincerity of the ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe. Political violence continues, especially in provincial towns and rural areas, and the Harare government has filled positions on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in preparation for elections set for March 2008, though the commission's composition is a significant issue on the talks agenda.

However, officials of the rival MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara have expressed displeasure that the Tsvangirai faction issued threats to pull out of the talks without consultation between the two factions, which sit together and advance common positions at the negotiating table in Pretoria and, more recently, Harare.

Deputy Secretary General Priscilla Misiharambwi-Mushonga of the Mutambara faction told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that her faction too has serious reservations about whether ZANU-PF is negotiating in good faith - but with negotiators still at the table no faction should be issuing ultimatums.

South African President Thabo Mbeki and other top Pretoria officials started mediation of the Zimbabwe crisis talks in March at the behest of an extraordinary summit of the Southern African Development Community called after Harare cracked down on the opposition that month with fatal results, amid an accelerating economic collapse.

Mbeki has submitted interim reports to SADC and the African Union, and is likely to be called upon to brief European and African heads of state scheduled to gather in Lisbon, Portugal, Dec. 8-9 for a summit on development and trade.

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