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Zimbabwe Opposition Leader Denies Imminent Deal With Ruling Party - 2003-09-30


The leader of Zimbabwe's main opposition party, Morgan Tsvangirai, has denied media speculation that he and the ruling Zanu-PF party are close to a deal on constitutional reform. Mr. Tsvangirai says the two sides are not even talking to each other. Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai says news reports that his party and President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party have agreed on changes to Zimbabwe's constitution are grossly exaggerated. In fact, he said, the two sides are not even negotiating.

He specifically contradicted South Africa's President Mbeki who has said that, "the Zimbabweans are talking" and there would be an agreement in the country by the end of the year.

But he said President Mbeki's help would be welcome. "I hope that President Mbeki will continue to use his influence to achieve that objective and we would like to work with him in making sure that the formal talks are resumed and that there is an agreement by the target date he has set," he said.

Mr. Tsvangirai added that, despite President Mugabe's conciliatory remarks toward the opposition MDC at Vice-President Muzenda's funeral earlier this month "democratic space is being closed to the MDC."

He also condemned the closure of the country's only independent daily newspaper, the Daily News, by Mr. Mugabe's government and said his party would launch a campaign to get the newspaper back on the newsstands.