Zimbabwe's parliament was set to take up legislation on Tuesday to create a national security council as a complement to a unity government, while the ruling ZANU-PF party said it would submit a motion calling for the lifting of sanctions imposed by Western countries on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle - though observers doubted it would pass.

Though ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change agreed in principle in their Sept. 15 power-sharing accord that Western sanctions should be lifted, it was far from evident that the MDC majority in the lower house of parliament would back the measure, especially as ZANU-PF has yet to meet a number of MDC power-sharing conditions.

Parliament last week unanimously passed an amendment to the constitution enabling the formation of a long-delayed national unity government, and was expected to endorse the national security council legislation. That would set the stage for the swearing-in of MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai as prime minister with deputies Arthur Mutambara, head of the rival MDC formation, and Thokozani Khupe, Tsvangirai's second in his formation.

The MDC demanded the national security council as a check on the power and activities of the security apparatus which has played a major role in political repression and violence, especially in the wake of national elections last March when abductions and murders were rife.

The power-sharing parties were said to be working overtime vetting names of those to be named ministers amid feverish speculation as to the composition of the government.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai MDC formation told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the cabinet will not be named until Friday, but that Tsvangirai will lay out a plan for national revival when he is sworn in Wednesday.

Political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said he was skeptical the MDC will support the motion from ZANU-PF calling for sanctions to be lifted. 

Meanwhile, human rights groups in Zimbabwe said opposition activists detained on charges they plotted to overthrow are failing in health having been denied adequate medical treatment, VOA correspondent Peta Thornycroft reported from Harare.

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