A faction of Zimbabwe's opposition has elected a former student activist as its leader, formalizing a split in the party.

A faction of the Movement for Democratic Change chose Arthur Mutambara as its new president during a leadership conference in the southern city of Bulawayo Saturday.

Mutambara told the 3,000 delegates that he would unite opposition to President Robert Mugabe's 26-year rule.

The party split last year in disagreement over whether to boycott Senate elections.

Morgan Tsvangirai, who has led the party since its inception in 1999, favored the boycott and has rejected the challenge to his leadership.

Tsvangirai came close to unseating President Mugabe in elections in 2002.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.