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Zimbabwe's Mutambara Undoes Opposition Moves Towards Unification

Hopes among some Zimbabweans that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change might mend the fault line between its two factions have been dashed with the declaration by Arthur Mutambara, rival to MDC founding president Morgan Tsvangirai, that he intends to present himself as a candidate in the 2008 presidential election.

At the same time, Mutambara told journalists at a news conference in Harare over the weekend that his MDC faction was pulling out of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign which had provided a venue for cooperation by the two opposition formations. Mutambara charged that the Save Zimbabwe Campaign was supporting Tsvangirai, who has announced he will challenge the incumbent President Robert Mugabe.

Correspondent Irwin Chifera of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported.

Responding obliquely in a campaign speech on Sunday, Tsvangirai said democratic forces must work together to dislodge Mr. Mugabe and the ruling party in 2008.

Correspondent Thomas Chiripasi reported from Harare's Kuwadzana section.

Commented Tsvangirai spokesman Nelson Chamisa: "We believe in unity of purpose and we hope people will realize that the enemy is Mugabe and not Tsvangirai.”

Mutambara’s decision to enter the presidential field in next year’s election is likely to benefit Mr. Mugabe and the ruling party, said democracy and governance program director Peter Kagwanja of the Human Science Research Council in South Africa.

Kagwanja told reporter Patience Rusere that the move could also undercut the crisis negotiation talks being mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki.

As campaigning for the March 2008 elections picks up, key issues are emerging as respective party leaders address supporters, reported Safari Njema.

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