Zimbabwe’s MDC meets to discuss parliament opening

August 26th, 2008 - 5:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Harare, Aug 26 (DPA) Fresh from an unprecedented victory in Zimbabwe’s new parliament Monday, the main opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is meeting Tuesday to decide whether they would boycott President Robert Mugabe’s formal opening of the legislature. “Our position is that this country does not have a state president,” said Lovemore Moyo, newly-elected speaker of the house of assembly.

“We respect the result of the March 29 election,” when Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC chief, won more votes than Mugabe in a presidential election, but failed to achieve an absolute majority.

In the campaign for the second round, the autocratic 84-year-old leader unleashed a bloody offensive against MDC supporters that left over 125 dead and thousands maimed and homeless. Mugabe’s victory was widely discredited after he ran uncontested.

“We will be caucusing this morning,” before the opening, Moyo said. “We will decide there what action to take.” Observers said Mugabe faces embarrassment in addressing a more than half-empty parliament in which his Zanu-PF party, which ruled the country since independence in 1980, has been relegated to the opposition.

On Monday, MDC won an unexpected victory for the speaker of the house of assembly. Zanu-PF, which has 99 of the 210 seats in assembly, did not nominate its own candidate, but decided to support the candidate nominated by the lesser faction of the MDC led by Arthur Mutambara.

The strategy was undone when Mutambara’s MPs, apparently with the support in the secret ballot of some Zanu-PF MPs, voted instead for Moyo, the candidate of Tsvangirai’s faction.

The three parties have been engaged in power-sharing talks for an “inclusive” government, but the dialogue is stalled with Tsvangirai refusing to accept a draft agreement that would make him prime minister with significantly less power than Mugabe as the executive state president.

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