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Zimbabwe Opposition Leader Says Country Run by Military


Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says the country is being run by the military and police. He also says talk of a unity government is premature. Peta Thornycroft reports for VOA from Harare Tsvangirai says he is focused on campaigning for the presidential runoff, less than three weeks away.

During a news conference Tuesday, Morgan Tsvangirai said violence against members of his party, the Movement for Democratic Change, has continued unabated since the party won a majority of votes in parliamentary and presidential elections on March 29.

He blames President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF.

"We won the election, only the loser has a score to settle with the masses, this is why ZANU-PF has set up bases across the country," he said. "When the military plan was unveiled, this country has witnessed a de facto coup d'etat and is now effectively run by a military junta."

The opposition says 66 people have been killed, 200 are unaccounted for, 3,000 have been injured and 25,000 have been internally displaced by violence since the election.

Tsvangirai said the MDC is not involved in any negotiations for a government of national unity and is preparing for the runoff.

"There is growing momentum on the question of a government of national unity," he said. "The speculation is rife on this issue with some saying negotiations are taking place, others saying an agreement has already been signed; the only difference is that Tsvangirai wants one before elections and Mugabe wants a government of national unity after elections. Nothing can be further form the truth."

But the opposition candidate did not rule out reconciliation after the runoff.

"We have been on record saying once the mandate is given to us we will form an inclusive government as a way of managing our transition," he said. "We are committed to this position. The Kenya model of a government of national unity is not an option, because here there was a conclusive outcome, the people have spoken and the people's choice must be respected."

Tsvangirai received more votes than Mr. Mugabe in the March 29 election, but according to official results he did not win the 50 percent plus one vote necessary to avoid a runoff.

Observers say even if Mr. Mugabe claims victory in the runoff election he will find it difficult to claim a mandate after a vote undermined by campaign violence. That could make a coalition the only way to restore legitimacy.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa says he is examining an amnesty for some criminals to make space in prisons for political offenders.

The attorney general's office has said it would no longer grant bail to people accused of inciting political violence. The only people known to have been accused of this offense have been victims of political violence, members of the Movement for Democratic Change.

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