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Zimbabwe Opposition's Tsvangirai Tells President Mugabe to Step Down

The founding president of Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, has urged President Robert Mugabe to step down and hand over power to a transitional government to overhaul the constitution and hold new elections.

Addressing about 7,000 people in Bulawayo on Sunday, Tsvangirai said that despite official threats to crush any wave of mass protests, he is prepared to die if necessary to free Zimbabwe from what he termed “misrule” by Mr. Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party.

Correspondent Netsai Mlilo of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported that others who spoke at the rally warned the crowd to brace for confrontation with the government.

Nelson Chamisa, a spokesman for Tsvangirai's faction of the divided MDC, told VOA reporter Ashenafi Abedje that his call for the president's resignation “captures the thinking and the attitudes in the country.” He says most Zimbabweans feel “we need a new government, we need a new democratic dispensation, but for us to be able to achieve that, we need to have a de-construction of the dictatorship.”

Some skeptics have questioned whether Tsvangirai can rouse the population to take on the Mugabe government, pointing to his party’s so-called “final push” in 2003 that proposed to unseat Mr. Mugabe but was quickly put down by the government.

But National Constitutional Assembly Chairman Lovemore Madhuku, long an advocate of direct popular action, told Studio 7 reporter Chinedu Offor that the odds are better this time around because most Zimbabweans have nothing left to lose.

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