July 21, 2008

Zimbabwean Talks Rules Likely to Be Signed

Zimbabwe's main opposition party is expected to sign an agreement with the country's ruling party in advance of another round of peace talks, officials said.

The memorandum of understanding would set guidelines on consultations between Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and the Movement for Democratic Change party, Voice of America reported Monday.

The expected signing comes after talks mediator South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki, proposed a team from Southern African Development Community and the United Nations aid in mediation efforts.

Mugabe won a runoff election in June after MDC party candidate Morgan Tsvangirai, withdrew from the race because of escalating violence and intimidation in the months leading up to the election. MDC officials claim up to 80 of its supporters were killed by Mugabe loyalists. Many world leaders have called Mugabe's election a sham.

Glen Mpani, with the Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation in Cape Town, South Africa, says MDC officials should view the talks with with cautious optimism.

The signing of the memorandum of understanding or a framework in which the talks can be held between the MDC political party and the ruling party ZANU-PF is a step in the right direction ..., Mpani told VOA. But I think we should be cautious about this process because it is only a start ...