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ZIMBABWE

Tsvangirai: Zimbabwe run by military junta

3 min

In a press conference in Harare, Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said that the country was being run by a military junta. He blamed President Mugabe for the deadly violence ahead of the June 27 elections.

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Zimbabwe's opposition leader said Tuesday the country was now effectively being run by a military junta as he vowed that he would not accept a victory for President Robert Mugabe at this month's poll.

Speaking at a press conference in Harare, Morgan Tsvangirai said that his supporters were being subjected to "state-sponsored brutality" being carried out and coordinated by the military, with the backing of Mugabe.

"This country is effectively now run by a military junta," the Movement for Democratic Change leader told reporters, little more than a fortnight before he tries to topple Mugabe at a run-off presidential election on June 27.

"As a people we have been exposed to state-sponsored brutality ... Terror has been unleashed on the people."

Tsvangirai said that Mugabe as commander in chief bore ultimate responsibility for the violence, which he said had now left 66 MDC supporters dead and another 200 were unaccounted for.

A further 3,000 had been hospitalised, he said.

"The current reality is that he has allowed that situation to develop," he said.

Asked who else was orchestrating it, Tsvangirai said: "We know the people who are calling the shots.

"We know the man who has given tacit approval -- he is the commander in chief."

Despite the violence, Tsvangirai said there was no question of him pulling out of the race, insisting he would contest the run-off.

"The illegitimacy of this regime will be confirmed if Mugabe declares himself the winner," Movement for Democratic Change leader Tsvangirai told a press conference in Harare.

He added: "Despite the conditions on the ground, the MDC is focused on the run-off and has developed counter-strategies of campaigning. I have been encouraged by people's desire to finish what we have started."

His comments came with South Africa at the centre of a new bid Tuesday to mediate between Zimbabwe's ruling party and opposition as more violence flared in the run-up to the vote.

Some have called for the run-off to be cancelled to allow for negotiations on forming a transitional government to take place.

Suggestions have included forming a Kenya-style government of national unity with Mugabe as president and Tsvangirai as prime minister.

Disputed elections in Kenya led to violence in that country, only resolved when the ruling party and opposition formed a coalition government.

However, Tsvangirai said: "The question of a national unity government does not arise."

Violence has mounted ahead of the run-off, and while Mugabe has accused the MDC of "terrorising" ZANU-PF followers, the UN says the vast majority of victims have in fact been opposition supporters.

The government announced on Monday that suspected perpetrators or instigators of violence would be refused bail, a move the MDC claimed would enable Mugabe to tighten the screw on his opponents.

The vast majority of those arrested over the violence have been MDC supporters, including four lawmakers.

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