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Zimbabwe Presidential Contender Makoni Shuns Opposition Ties

Zimbabwean presidential hopeful Simba Makoni, a former top official of the ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe, has ruled out forming an alliance with the opposition though one faction of the Movement for Democratic Change claims it signed an agreement with Makoni establishing such an alliance.

Makoni says forming a coalition with the opposition would alienate people in ZANU-PF who share his “proper vision.” Makoni told a talk radio station in South Africa Monday that he would form a coalition only with the people of Zimbabwe.

But Vice President Gibson Sibanda of the MDC formation led by Arthur Mutambara said his grouping had a written agreement with Makoni as the basis for statements by Mutambara on Feb. 15 saying he was putting his formation behind Makoni.

Sibanda added that the party hopes to participate in a government of national unity if Makoni wins the election. But sources close to Makoni, declining to speak for the record, dismissed the claims of the Mutambara grouping as wishful thinking.

Mutambara himself refused to comment on the controversy.

Political analyst John Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe professor and a prominent critic of the Mugabe administration, told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the Mutambara-led faction moved too fast in backing Makoni.

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