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Moment Of Truth Approaches For Zimbabwe Opposition On Crisis Talks

Despite expectations that crisis resolution talks between Zimbabwe's ruling party and opposition should culminate soon in a substantial agreement, the talks seem at risk of stalling amid complaints by the Movement for Democratic Change that ZANU-PF negotiators are failing to commit to real reform or implement accords.

Officials of the MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai threatened this week to pull out of the talks entirely, though the rival faction headed by Arthur Mutambara, in theory a negotiating partner with the Tsvangirai faction, says it would be premature to exit.

Both factions agree the ruling party of President Robert Mugabe, up for re-election in 2008, has failed to take substantive steps to level the electoral playing field.

Harare is pressing ahead with preparations for presidential and general elections next March, though the MDC argues that a whole range of issues such as the delimitation of new constituencies and the composition of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, remain to be resolved in the discussions in Pretoria and, more recently, Harare.

With a European Union-African Union summit coming up next week, the pressure is on in Pretoria and Harare for the ruling party and opposition to wrap up the talks.The recent short visit by South African President Thabo Mbeki to Harare to discuss progress of the talks was seen by some as a sign the talks are in trouble.

For perspective on developments, reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to Dakar-based political commentator and blogger Chido Makunike and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Senior Program Manager Pedzisai Ruhanya.

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