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Tsvangirai:  Zimbabwe's State-Sponsored Violence Continues - 2002-02-26


Two more senior officials of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, have been told by police that they are to be charged with treason. Meanwhile, the MDC presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, has said he is pleased that some foreign presidential election observers have acted to defuse potentially violent situations during campaigning for next month's vote.

Addressing a news conference in Harare, the capital, Mr. Tsvangirai said persecution and harassment of party supporters through "state-sponsored violence" was continuing.

But Mr. Tsvangirai said the presence of foreign election observers had definitely helped to defuse potentially dangerous situations.

"I would like to thank them some of them for taking an interventionist role rather than observing. I know that there have been so many incidents that have taken place in which the observers have either taken personal initiative with the police to intervene with the authorities to ensure that situations don't get out of hand," Mr. Tsvangirai said.

Mr. Tsvangirai again denied the charge of treason against him, saying it is aimed at preventing him from challenging President Robert Mugabe in the March 9-10 presidential election.

On Monday, the Zimbabwe government accused Mr. Tsvangirai of planning to kill President Mugabe. The accusation was based on a secret videotape of a meeting that is alleged to have taken place in Canada last year. Mr. Tsvangirai said he was betrayed by advisers and consultants the MDC trusted.

"I trusted my subordinates who recommended these people for me to see them. I have no doubt in my mind that I should have doubted their trust and their intelligence. To verify the bona fides of these people, so I worked on that basis but I think that when a trust is betrayed by people you have hired as your representatives and their double dealing, what else can you do?" Mr. Tsvangirai asked.

The MDC leader said that two of his senior advisors, deputy president Welshman Ncube and agriculture affairs specialist Renson Gasela, have also been questioned by police over the same incident and told they are being investigated for treason.