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Exiled Zimbabwe Opposition Figure Bennett Urged To Seek His Old Seat


Senior Zimbabwean opposition figure Roy Bennett, who spent eight months in prison in 2004-2005 for shoving a minister in parliament during a heated debate in May 2004 and later sought political asylum in South Africa, said Tuesday he would consider standing for election to his old Chimanimani seat if his safety is guaranteed.

Bennett was released from prison in June 2005 after serving eight months of the one-year prison sentence imposed by parliament's ruling ZANU-PF majority for shoving Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa during a debate on land reform. He sought asylum in South Africa after the government alleged in early 2006 in that he had conspired with others to assassinate President Robert Mugabe on a visit to Mutare.

Bennett, now treasurer-general of the Movement for Democratic Change grouping led by Morgan Tsvangirai, said he was approached in South Africa by a representative of Chimanimani community leaders who urged him to consider seeking the seat.

Bennett told reporter Patience Rusere that his decision depends on whether or not the opposition, now in South African-mediated talks with the ruling party, can hammer out a deal that will ensure free and fair elections and the safety of MDC candidates.

But Bennett expressed doubts, saying that as matters stand in Zimbabwe he believes the government would conjure up charges against him as soon as he returned.

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