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Zimbabwe Power-Sharing Parties Fence Over Constitutional Amendment

A proposed constitutional amendment that could advance the troubled power-sharing process in Zimbabwe has received the approval of mediator Thabo Mbeki, the former South African president, who Wednesday urged the parties to resume discussions in Pretoria.

The draft constitutional amendment, required to establish the offices of prime minister and deputy prime minister for Movement for Democratic Change founder Morgan Tsvangirai and rival MDC formation leader Arthur Mutambara, respectively, was sent to Mbeki late Tuesday by the long-ruling but now minority ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe.

But the former South African president's call for a new round of talks snagged as Tsvangirai's MDC formation said it was not ready for discussions and had not yet seen the draft.

Pretoria sources said all three parties to the Zimbabwe power-sharing deal had been expected to travel to Pretoria this week, but the consultations were pushed off to next week.'

Secretary General Tendai Biti of the Tsvangirai MDC formation told VOA his party has drafted its own amendment and wants its version and ZANU-PF's to be reconciled.

The Mutambara MDC formation confirmed it had received a copy of the draft from Mbeki and was examining it.

Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said Mr. Mugabe was in the process of assembling a new cabinet, but gave no timetable on when this might be announced.

Tsvangirai has vowed not to join any new government until the constitutional amendment is in place, and subject to all outstanding issues being resolved, which could bring the vexed question of who controls the Home Affairs Ministry front and center again.

ZANU-PF Chief Parliamentary Whip Joram Gumbo told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that although the party has given Mr. Mugabe the green light to form a government it is up to him to decide when to do so.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai MDC formation accused ZANU-PF of failing to consult on the draft amendment, saying his party had not taken delivery of the text.

Secretary General Welshman Ncube of the Mutambara MDC grouping said most of what is in the draft cleared by Mbeki has already been agreed by the parties to the talks.

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