Tsvangirai says MDC not negotiating with ZANU PF

HARARE - Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Tuesday denied he was negotiating a government of national unity with President Robert Mugabe in a bid to break Zimbabwe's crisis and end political violence that has killed dozens of mainly opposition supporters.

Talk of negotiations was mere speculation said Tsvangirai, adding that in reality a military junta had seized control of Zimbabwe and was orchestrating political violence in the misplaced hope that it could intimidate voters to grant Mugabe another five-year term in office in the June 27 presidential run-off election.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party leader hinted that negotiations could only take place after the run-off election, which he said he was certain to win despite violence that he said had killed 66 members of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party and displaced more than 25 000 others.

We are not involved in any talks of a government of national unity. In fact, any negotiated government of national unity before the run-off is not possible. However we will form an all-inclusive government as a way to manage the transition after our victory, Tsvangirai told journalists in Harare.

Tsvangirai said a military-led campaign of violence and intimidation that began soon after it became clear that the MDC had defeated the ruling ZANU PF in combined presidential and parliamentary elections on March 29 had decimated the opposition party’s structures

He said: The country is effectively being run by a military junta and we know who is calling the shots. Mugabe has allowed this because it serves his purpose.

Our structures have been decimated and we have seen targeted attacks on our candidates while our polling agents have become prime targets. We have seen state sponsored brutality and violence is continuing unabated.

But the violence would not deter Zimbabweans from voting Mugabe out of office in the month-end poll, said Tsvangirai, adding that he was on the campaign trail merely as a formality because the electorate was decided already to reject Mugabe.

Tsvangirai starts as favourite to win the run-off poll that is being held because the opposition leader defeated Mugabe in March but fell short of the margin required to takeover the presidency.

However there are growing calls within Zimbabwe, the southern African region and beyond for Mugabe and Tsvangirai to forego the run-off election and instead start negotiations for a transitional government of national unity that would be tasked to stabilise the political and economic environment before new free and fair elections are held.

Some Zimbabwean and South African newspapers have in recent days suggested that the two protagonists were discussing forming such a government of national unity, with Mugabe remaining president while Tsvangirai takes the prime minister’s post.  

Proponents for a government of national unity or transitional authority have argued that the month-end run-off election will not end Zimbabwe’s economic crisis especially if won by Mugabe, while victory for Tsvangirai could see army hardliners staging a coup to forestall the opposition leader taking power. – ZimOnline

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