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Zimbabwe's Mutambara Vows Defiance Against Election Postponement

Movement for Democratic Change faction leader Arthur Mutambara said Tuesday he is launching a “defiance campaign” against a proposal by President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party to put off next year's presidential election until 2010.

Mutambara said he was rolling out the initiative around “the twin issues of saying 'No' to the postponement of the 2008 presidential election and saying 'No' to the holding of elections under the current constitutional and legal arrangements.”

He promised his faction would in due course announce protests around the country on key issues affecting the Zimbabwean people in their day to day lives.

Mutambara declared that his undertaking was one of "defiance or death."

Harare correspondent Thomas Chiripasi of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe covered the Mutambara news conference at a hotel in the capital.

Mutambara told reporter Blessing Zulu in a separate interview that his grouping will join other parties and civil society groups in challenging the government's writ.

Ruling party spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira said Monday in an interview with VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that ZANU-PF would reach a final decision on what it calls the "harmonization" of elections in March after internal and grass roots consultations.

Proponents of postponing the 2008 presidential ballot say this would be in the interest of holding it at the same time as the general election due in 2010, arguing that it would save money and improve election conditions. But opponents including the political opposition and civic groups say it is just a way to extend Mr. Mugabe's term.

Eight out of 10 ZANU-PF provinces voted in favor of the proposal at the party's annual convention in December, but the resolution was not adopted. Party insiders now say President Mugabe is having trouble lining up support to extend his term.

The Movement for Democratic Change split over issues of strategy and personality in October 2005, and Mutambara later accepted leadership of the "pro-senate" faction, so called because its members chose to contest November 2005 senate elections.

The rival faction of the MDC is led by founding President Morgan Tsvangirai.

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