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Zimbabwe's Inter-Party Negotiators Defy Mugabe Call for Early Elections

Negotiators for the parties in Harare's unity government warned that they do not control the timetable for amending the constitution, which they noted depends on the parliamentary select committee

The three principals in Zimbabwe's rickety government of national unity will receive a report on Wednesday from their negotiators on Global Political Agreement issues which sources say rules out national elections before mid- to late 2012.

But President Robert Mugabe is still demanding that the process be fast-tracked so that elections can be held at the end of this year, sources said. The negotiators met Monday in Harare and agreed on the long timeline for a new round of elections - a key component of the so-called electoral road map long in development.

The negotiating group has assigned Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, former lead negotiator for ZANU-PF, to write the final report to the principals, sources said.

Negotiators warned that they do not control the timetable for amending the constitution which depends on the parliamentary select committee for that.

The negotiators deferred discussing security sector reform, saying they have asked the principals and South African President Jacob Zuma, mediator in Zimbabwe on behalf of the Southern African Development Community, to take up that sensitive issue.

Reforms on which they agreed include the overhaul of the corrupted voters list.

Kent University Law Lecturer Alex Magaisa told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that Mr. Mugabe’s persistent call for elections to be held as soon as possible is baffling.

Elsewhere, there was chaos in the Cabinet on Tuesday when Youth Minister Saviour Kasukuwere tried to introduce youth service legislation. Cabinet sources said MDC ministers accused ZANU-PF of using the youth militia to murder MDC supporters.

Responding, ZANU-PF ministers called the MDC ministers puppets of the West. The bill was eventually rejected. Reached by VOA, Kasukuwere refused to comment.

Director Sydney Chisi of the Youth Initiative for Democracy in Zimbabwe said the Cabinet decision was a welcome one.

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