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Mugabe Challenger From Zimbabwe Ruling Party Denies Western Backing


Former Zimbabwean finance minister Simba Makoni, who earlier this week launched a bid to unseat President Robert Mugabe, on Thursday dismissed state media reports saying Great Britain and the United States have had a hand in his candidacy.

Makoni called a news conference in Harare to reject the accusations that he was a tool of the West, as correspondent Thomas Chiripasi reported.

Meanwhile, political analysts said Makoni could spoil the chances of the other three contenders, siphoning votes from Mr. Mugabe and the leaders of the rival factions of the Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara.

President Mugabe stands to lose votes of ZANU-PF party members disenchanted with his leadership and the country's steep descent into economic ruin. But the opposition candidates stand to lose votes they might have gotten from dissatisfied ruling party members, and those disillusioned with MDC divisions might also vote for Makoni.

Political analyst Brian Kagoro, a regional advocacy manager for Britain’s ActionAid, told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the biggest loser seems likely to be Mr. Mugabe - though Mutambara is also looking vulnerable in his eastern home region, Manicaland, of which Makoni is also a native.

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