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Zimbabwe Opposition Says It Will Defy Police Ban On Protest March


The Zimbabwean police issued a ban Monday on a march scheduled Wednesday by a faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change to demand electoral reform and protest deteriorating living standards, but Secretary General Tendai Biti of the MDC faction of Morgan Tsvangirai said the procession will be held as planned.

The chief superintendent of the Harare Central police district sent the MDC formation a letter saying police concluded after analyzing information and intelligence reports that the opposition faction was “working outside the spirit of what we had agreed.” Police had earlier granted permission for the faction to hold the march.

Biti said the police did not state the reasons for the decision as required by the newly amended Public Order and Security Act, adding that Zimbabweans have a democratic right to march, correspondent Irwin Chifera reported from Harare.

Earlier, representatives of the two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change met in South Africa on the weekend and agreed to cooperate in the upcoming elections but failed to progress towards reunification, MDC sources said.

Spokesmen for both factions declined to comment. But sources said talks focused on how to avoid splitting the vote and on fielding a single presidential candidate.

MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai took part in the discussions along with the secretary general of his faction, Tendai Biti, among others. The Arthur Mutambara faction sent a delegation including its vice president, Gibson Sibanda, Secretary General Welshman Ncube and Information Secretary Gabriel Chaibva, MDC sources said.

The two factions are expected to hold a news conference this week to announce the results of their discussions, after consulting with their national memberships.

The MDC split into two factions in late 2005 over the question of whether to contest elections for a reconstituted senate.

Programs Manager Pedzisayi Ruhanya of the Crisis In Zimbabwe Coalition told Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the two factions realize their chances against the ruling ZANU-PF party are poor if they remain divided.

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

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