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Zimbabwe Opposition Decision Looms On Election Boycott Over Violence

The leadership of Zimbabwe's embattled opposition Movement for Democratic Change will decide Sunday whether to press ahead and contest the presidential run-off election in which MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai is scheduled to face President Robert Mugabe on June 27 - or boycott the election because of the mounting death toll from political violence.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the party has received "an avalanche" of appeals from supporters urging Tsvangirai to withdraw from the contest. More than 80 officials, members and supporters of the opposition party have died in political violence which most observers say has mainly been perpetrated by militia of Mr. Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party.

Opposition sources said a number of senior officials gathered today to examine the situation - though without Tsvangirai, who was away in western Matabeleland South province.

Chamisa said the rising number of deaths among supporters has obliged the party to conduct a review of its participation in the presidential run-off ballot.

But political analyst Hermann Hanekom told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Tsvangirai owes it to his supporters to stay in the race.

Hanekom argued that if Mr. Mugabe and ZANU-PF steal the election it will be an occasion for the international community to get tougher on the Mugabe government.

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