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United Opposition Parties Vow to Fight Mugabe


In Zimbabwe, all opposition groups have vowed to continue confronting the government until President Robert Mugabe leaves office and democratic elections are held. For VOA, Peta Thornycroft has more.

Civil rights activist Lovemore Madhuku, head of the National Constitutional Assembly, says Zimbabwe needs a new constitution that protects and promotes free and fair elections, before Zimbabweans participate in another election.

Madhuku was speaking at a news conference Friday that was organized by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, which last Sunday organized the prayer rally, where top opposition leaders were arrested and beaten by police.

Madhuku, who was among those beaten, said he was taken aside by assistant commissioner Musarashuna Magunda, from the law and order section of Harare police station, who accused him of being a ringleader in the growing opposition to Mr. Mugabe's 27-year rule. He said the assistant commissioner warned him that he would suffer the consequences of his political activities.

Minutes later, Madhuku said, the beatings started. Bruises are still visible on his head and his arm, which was broken and remains in a cast.

The president of one faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Arthur Mutambara, said all opposition groups need to unite to end what he called "the ZANU-PF tyranny," referring to the ruling party.

Mutambara urged opposition leaders to suspend personal and political agendas in favor of a national agenda, which, he said, is to bring democracy to Zimbabwe. He said he and Morgan Tsvangirai, the founding president of the Movement for Democratic Change and leader of the other faction, are in agreement on opposing the ruling ZANU-PF party. Mutambara also agreed there should be no further participation in elections until there is a new constitution.

The MDC split into two factions in October 2005, and analysts say this dramatically weakened opposition to Mugabe's rule.

Mutambara, who was himself arrested last Sunday, paid tribute to all those who had endured beatings in detention.

Mutambara had strong criticism of President Mugabe, calling him a "tyrant and a sick old man," and saying he did not recognize him as head of state. Mutambara said Mr. Mugabe should leave office now, and leave the country.

He said no responsible African leader could ignore what is going on in Zimbabwe, and that South Africa could not consider itself free while its neighbor's people remain oppressed.

Meanwhile, Morgan Tsvangirai, tired and still in pain, but in a bouyant mood, was released from hospital early Friday vowing to continue the struggle against Mr. Mugabe.

The police continue to patrol some of the townships, but some of the violence, which took place earlier on in the week appears, for the moment, to have decreased.

President Mugabe has accused the MDC for colluding with the West to seek what he calls regime change in Zimbabwe.