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Opposition Leader Tsvangirai Calls for Expanded African Involvement in Zimbabwe


Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has called for greater African involvement in Zimbabwe's crises. And as VOA's Delia Robertson reports from our southern Africa bureau in Johannesburg, the Movement for Democratic Change leader added his voice to growing calls for a transitional authority in his country.

Morgan Tsvangirai briefly emerged from his refuge at the Dutch Embassy and told reporters in Harare that the crisis in Zimbabwe demands greater African involvement, supported by armed peacekeepers.

"I am asking the African Union and SADC to lead an expanded initiative supported by the United Nations to manage what I will call a transitional process," Tsvangirai explained. "We are proposing that the AU facilitation team comprising eminent Africans set up a transitional period which takes into account will of the people of Zimbabwean as exercised on the 29th of March."

Tsvangirai listed four requirements for a transitional program, but top of his list was an end to state-sponsored violence.

"The violence must stop," he said. "All structures and infrastructures of violence must be withdrawn and disbanded . . . towards this objective, amongst other things war veterans, youth militia and others encamped on the edges of our cities, in towns and villages need to be sent home and be reintegrated into out society. Unofficial roadblocks along the roads and highways must be disbanded. These camps and roadblocks are the checkpoints of violence."

President Robert Mugabe continues to insist the presidential runoff poll will be held Friday as planned, even though Mr. Tsvangirai has withdrawn from the race. Tsvangirai said he remains convinced his decision to withdraw was the right decision, and he again said he believes the election will be an illegitimate sham. He said his decision has received widespread support from within the region, the continent and the broad international community.

Tsvangirai also repeated his belief that a transitional period and dialogue are the only way forward for Zimbabwe in the current climate.

"The transitional period would allow the country to heal," Tsvangirai said. "Genuine and honest dialogue among Zimbabweans is the only way forward. A negotiated political settlement which allows the country to begin a national healing and the process: a, of economic reconstruction; b, provision of humanitarian assistance; and c, democratization would be in the best interests of this country."

But he warned there could be no talks while the party's number two, Tendai Biti and some "2,000" political prisoners remain behind bars.

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