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Zimbabwe Opposition Factions Seek Reconciliation

Factions of Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change were set to meet on Saturday in an effort to resolve serious differences over whether to take part in or to boycott senate elections called for November 26 by the ruling party.

Sources in the party said efforts were under way to end an impasse between the MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai, and five other top officials who broke with him after he overrode a vote by the MDC party’s national council for contesting the elections.

Mr. Tsvangirai argues that the senate was restored and the election called largely to bolster the ruling party's grip on power. Zimbabwe civil society organizations support him on this, arguing as well that the elections will be a poor use of scarce funds at a time when food and fuel are in critical supply and the economy is in a shambles.

Some of the dissenting officials, who include MDC Secretary General Welshman Ncube and Vice President Gibson Sibanda, were said to be heading for a meeting with South African President Thabo Mbeki related to the Zimbabwe opposition imbroglio.

But they were expected back in Harare late Saturday to meet with Mr. Tsvangirai.

Reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe talked with the party’s official spokesman, Paul Themba Nyathi, about developments in the crisis.

President Robert Mugabe involved himself in the dispute, criticizing Mr. Tsvangirai for “breaching” the opposition party’s constitution. In a speech to youth supporters of his ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, Mr. Mugabe accused his chief opponent of “terrorizing those who are in favor of participating in the elections.”

Tsvangirai spokesman William Bango told Carole Gombakomba that Mr. Mugabe’s own record left him in no position to criticize the MDC president.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...