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Zimbabwe Civic & Church Groups Cautiously Welcome Talks Pact


Zimbabwean civil society was not celebrating just yet upon the signature of a memorandum of understanding on power-sharing talks by the main political parties, saying the document was a step in the right direction but not enough to address the continuing national crisis.

Leaders of some 40 non-governmental organizations are demanding inclusion in the talks and urging that the discussions bring forth a short-lived transitional government rather than a government of national unity as the means to end the acute political crisis.

Information Officer Fambai Ngirande of the National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the pact does not guarantee that talks will succeed in resolving the nation’s problems.

Civil society leaders similarly expressed skepticism in 2007 when the ruling party of President Robert Mugabe and the two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change headed by Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara entered crisis talks that hit the wall this January when Mr. Mugabe refused to compromise on key issues and called March elections.

Zimbabwean church organizations welcomed the signing in Harare on Monday of the memo of understanding setting the stage for power-sharing negotiations, but offered caveats.

Pastor Raymond Motsi, a spokesman for the Bulawayo-based Christian Alliance, said that while Mr. Mugabe is unlikely to change his style, the broadening of mediation to include the African Union and the United Nations suggests talks could yield more positive results.

Father Frederick Chiromba, a spokesman for the Heads of Christian Denominations of Zimbabwe, said his organization, which comprises the Council of Churches and the Catholic Bishops Conference, hopes the pact will end months of political violence.

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


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