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Tsvangirai seeks ZANU-PF divorce

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-03-11

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (pictured) said Thursday he had lost patience with his unity government partner, President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, calling for new elections under a regional roadmap.

AFP - Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday called for a "divorce" in his unity government with President Robert Mugabe, proposing new elections under a regional roadmap.

Tsvangirai had previously insisted that polls be held only once a new constitution was in place to guarantee political freedoms suppressed during Mugabe's three decades in power.

But on Thursday police arrested energy minister Elton Mangoma on unspecified charges, while the Supreme Court nullified the election of his party's chairman as parliamentary speaker.

"We have reached a moment where we are saying, let's agree that this is not working, it's dysfunctional," Tsvangirai told a news conference.

"Let's make arrangements to go for elections under a roadmap designed by SADC (Southern African Development Community) so that we have a clear, legitimate government."

"Even those with legendary patience, like some of us, have reached a stage where we are saying enough is enough. There is obviously a breakdown in the relationship between the parties," Tsvangirai said.

"If people find that a marriage has reached irreconcilable differences, then agree to a divorce."

Mugabe and Tsvangirai formed a unity government two years ago under a SADC-backed Global Political Agreement, which was meant to end political violence and to ensure basic rights like freedoms of speech and assembly.

But last month Amnesty International accused Mugabe's ZANU-PF party of attacking supporters of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), claiming police were complicit in the violence.

MDC lawmaker Douglas Mwonzora was arrested on charges of political violence, while fellow MP Rogers Tazviona was detained for cannabis possession.

In the wake of the uprisings in North Africa, 46 activists were arrested last month for watching a video of the revolution in Egypt. Eight remain in prison, including Munyaradzi Gwisai, a former MDC lawmaker charged with treason.

Tsvangirai deplored the arrests as the work of "a barbaric and senseless dictatorship."

"These blatant attacks by a partisan police commissioner-general, some sections of the judiciary and the attorney general represent a clear and present danger to the continued existence of this transitional government," he said.

"ZANU-PF is trying to use the courts to subvert and regain what it lost in an election," Tsvangirai said.

Mugabe's ZANU-PF party lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since independence in 1980, when Tsvangirai's MDC won legislative elections in 2008.

The presidential vote failed to produce a clear winner, after Tsvangirai won the first round but pulled out of a run-off, citing deadly attacks against his supporters that his party said left more than 200 dead.

Mugabe, 87, has already been endorsed by his party as the candidate for elections expected later this year.

Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980, said last month that the polls should be held as soon as possible.

Date created : 2011-03-11