African Press International (API)

"Daily Online News Channel".

Zimbabwe: Opposition unites against Mugabe

Posted by African Press International on May 3, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.zimonline

Story by Wayne Mafaro and Prince Nyathi

Johanneburg (South Africa) Zimbabwes opposition factions announced a parliamentary cooperation agreement on Monday giving them firm control of parliament and piling up the pressure on embattled President Robert Mugabe.

But the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party factions the larger one led by Morgan Tsvangirai and the other by academic Arthur Mutambara will still be short of a two-thirds parliamentary majority required to amend Zimbabwes defective Constitution that bestows wide-ranging powers on Mugabe. Its our pleasure to announce that our two formations in Parliament have agreed to work together, Tsvangirai told journalists in Johannesburg. The combined MDC parliamentary caucus is now in control of Parliament and ZANU PF (Mugabes party) is now the opposition.

The Tsvangirai-led MDC won 99 seats while the Mutambara group won 10, to bring their total number of seats to 109, a simple majority in the 210-seat House of Assembly. An independent candidate won one seat while ZANU PF, which had controlled Parliament since Zimbabwes 1980 independence took 97 seats. Three constituencies where voting could not take place will hold by-elections at an as yet unknown date.

Tsvangirai, who says he should be declared president because he defeated Mugabe in the March 29 combined presidential and parliamentary elections, urged the veteran Zimbabwean leader to concede defeat because there was no way he could rule effectively when he does not control Parliament. He should concede. He cannot be president without control of Parliament, said Tsvangirai.

However, analysts say with Zimbabwes strong presidential system Mugabe, if he wins an anticipated second round ballot against Tsvangirai, would still be able to rule although an opposition-led but traditionally weak Parliament would make the task a little harder. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is expected to issue official results of the presidential vote sometime this week. But ZANU PF and independent observers acknowledge Mugabe lost to Tsvangirai, although they say a second round of voting is required to settle the contest.

Tsvangirai said his party would this week meet Tanzanian President and African Union Chairman Jakaya Kikwete in its bid to bring more pressure on Mugabe to allow the release of the presidential election results.
The ZECs failure to release the results has touched off a tense stalemate that analysts fear could lead to violence and bloodshed, while the United States has threatened sanctions over delays to issue results.
The MDC says Mugabe is delaying results to use the time to unleash violence and terror on voters in a bid to cow them to support him in the second round ballot that, according to the electoral law, should be held within three days of issuing of results.

The MDC says at least 15 of its supporters have been murdered while another 3 000 have been displaced in the violence, which it the opposition party has described as a war being waged by state security forces and ZANU PF militants against Zimbabweans. Tsvangirai said the United Nations Security Council was on Tuesday scheduled to discuss violence and the deepening electoral crisis at the request of the MDC.
We have requested that the UN deals with the matter. The UN is meeting tomorrow and Zimbabwe is on the agenda, the opposition leader said.

MDC secretary general Tendai Biti is expected to brief the Security Council on the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe and to ask that the world body send a special envoy to probe violence and human rights abuses committed by state agents against opposition supporters.

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African Press International – api

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