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Zimbabwe Deputy PM Mutambara Renounces New Bid for Party Leadership


Secretary General Welshman Ncube was nominated late Thursday to assume the presidency of the party by its Harare province branch, and other provinces are expected to follow suit

Zimbabwean Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, visibly losing support within his wing of the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said Friday that he will not seek re-election as party president or any other post in the divided formation.

Mutambara was engaged in a bitter power struggle with party Secretary General Welshman Ncube ahead of the formation's congress in January. The deputy prime Minister admitted that jostling for position was tearing the party apart.

"By not participating, I hope there will be unity in the party. I am not standing for any nomination in the provincial councils or leadership positions but I will remain a member of the party. I do not have to be a leader to be poliitically involved," he said.

Ncube was nominated late Thursday to assume the presidency of the party by its Harare province branch, and other provinces are expected to follow suit.

Mutambara declined to comment whether he will step down as deputy prime minister, a position he won by virtue of being the president of the smaller MDC formation when the two MDC formations and President Robert Mugabe's long-ruling ZANU-PF signed a so-called Global Political Agreement in late 2008 to end a post-election stalemate.

The Bulawayo and Manicaland provinces of the Mutambara MDC will hold similar nominations for leadership positions Saturday. The party is expected to complete the process by December 22 ahead of the congress.

Bulawayo province spokesman Edwin Ndlovu said his branch will nominate deserving leaders to strengthen the party in advance of anticipated 2011 elections.

Analysts said little is likely to change in terms of the power dynamics in the government as Ncube was considered the king-maker and power broker in the MDC formation.

Ncube himself was instrumental in inviting Mutambara to lead the formation in 2006 after it split from the main MDC formation led by now-Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

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