Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, staking out his position on a ruling party proposals to postpone the country's next presidential election, urged President Robert Mugabe step down in 2008 or call a referendum on rescheduling the ballot.
Tsvangirai said the proposal from Mr. Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party to "harmonize" presidential and general elections by holding both in 2010 could be a turning point in the country's crisis. He noted that it has united opposition politicians and members of the ruling party who oppose the effective two-year extension of Mr. Mugabe's term.
The ruling party has fallen short of unanimity on the proposal. Eight out of 10 ZANU-PF provincial organizations expressed support for the "harmonization" plan when it was brought up at the ruling party's annual conference early last month.
Ruling party insiders say the proposal was not formally adopted because of resistance from top party officials, some of whom are interested in succeeding Mr. Mugabe. It has been sent to Zanu-PF’s central committee for further consideration.
Opposition parties and civic groups have vowed to resist the move.
Tsvangirai told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mr. Mugabe must not be allowed to become Zimbabwe's president for life.