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Zimbabwe's MDC Call for Boycott of Senate Poll Gets Mixed Reaction


Some members of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)have defied a call by its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, to boycott the upcoming Senate elections, and have put their names forward as candidates.

Of the MDC party, 26 members have filed their nomination papers with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Monday to take part in the November 26 senate election. That leaves 19 members of the ruling Zanu-PF party are running unopposed.

While some of Zimbabwe's 10 electoral provinces heeded the call by Mr. Tsvangirai not to participate in the poll, the southern provinces of Matebeleland North and South and Bulawayo are fielding the maximum five candidates each.

The MDC leadership has been involved in a public and bitter dispute over participation in elections for the recently re-introduced second legislative chamber. President Robert Mugabe decided to reintroduce the second chamber, in what government critics say is a move to solidify his hold on power.

The MDC leadership opposed the re-introduction of the senate in parliament, but the party's national council voted for taking part in the elections. The vote was, however, vetoed by Mr. Tsvangirai who argues the country does not need a second chamber. He accuses Mr. Mugabe of creating the senate for his friends who failed to make it into parliament.

Mr. Tsvangirai also questioned the wisdom of participating in a poll whose result, he says, is pre-determined. The opposition party rejected the results of the 2000 and 2005 parliamentary elections and the 2002 presidential elections, citing massive fraud, violence and ballot rigging.

Those in the MDC leadership in favor of participation argue that by not contesting the elections they would be surrendering political leverage to Zanu-PF.

Mr. Tsvangirai's spokesman, William Bango, told VOA that the people who put their names forward as MDC candidates do not represent the party, because they were not chosen according to the party constitution. He said some of the candidates are standing for election outside their own provinces and were not endorsed by the people in the constituencies they are representing.

The senate will have 66 members. Traditional chiefs, widely seen as pro-Mugabe, will choose 10 representatives from their midst and the president will appoint the remaining six senators.