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Mugabe Challengers Moot United Front In Event Of Zimbabwe Runoff Ballot

Zimbabwean presidential candidates Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and the leading independent candidate, Simba Makoni, have agreed in principle to join forces if the country's presidential race goes into a runoff, boosting pressure on President Robert Mugabe as he seeks a sixth term.

Makoni's national campaign coordinator, Nkosana Moyo, a former minister of industry and commerce, told journalists in Johannesburg on Wednesday that such a deal is “automatic” as Zimbabweans want to see an end to the Mugabe administration given the continuing collapse of the economy and widespread human suffering.

Inflation is running well over 100,000% and much of the population is having difficulty feeding itself with food prices astronomical and the agricultural sector moribund.

Secretary General Tendai Biti of the MDC formation of Morgan Tsvangirai (another MDC grouping has backed Makoni in the presidential race) told VOA that he agrees with Makoni campaign chief Moyo in principle, as Mugabe is the common foe.

Biti said the election is a referendum on Mr. Mugabe’s rule of nearly three decades.

Meanwhile Wednesday the candidates crisscrossed the country in search of votes.

Makoni was on a meet-the-people tour of the high-density Harare townships of Mbare, Highfield and Budiriro. President Mugabe, addressing a rally in Chiredzi, Masvingo Province, accused Tsvangirai and Makoni of being tools of Britain and the United States which he said sought regime change to reverse land reform.

Tsvangirai ventured into the ZANU-PF stronghold of Mashonaland East, addressing rallies in Mutoko, Murehwa and Marondera. He told an estimated 12,000 supporters in Marondera that after casting their votes on Saturday they should remain by polling stations to ensure that the ballot boxes are not removed to be stuffed.

Tsvangirai aide Tapiwa Tiribhoyi said Zimbabweans are ready for change.

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