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Zimbabwe Opposition Unites To Exercise Parliamentary Majority

Following confirmation in recounts that the Zimbabwean opposition claimed a majority in parliament's lower house in March 29 elections, leaders of the two branches of the Movement for Democratic Change said they will unite in exercising that majority.

MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai and rival opposition leader Arthur Mutambara told a news conference Monday in Johannesburg, South Africa, that they will form a single parliamentary caucus, join in selecting a speaker and shape a joint agenda.

Tsvangirai's formation claimed 99 seats and Mutambara's won 10 seats, for a total of 109 out of 210 house seats for a four-seat majority. However, three by-elections set due to pre-election candidate deaths are likely to boost the margin to seven seats.

Tsvangirai during the news conference urged President Robert Mugabe to step down and retire. "Old man, go and have an honorable exit," Tsvangirai said.

He said the United Nations should appoint a special envoy to investigate post-election violence concentrated in rural Zimbabwe, and seek a resolution of the crisis.

Tsvangirai told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that a full reunification of the party seemed likely but would only come in due time.

Elsewhere, an MDC official in Harare said the party had not heard from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission as to a meeting at which, ZEC Chairman George Chiweshe had intimated on Saturday, presidential results would be released for comparison with projections of political parties or presidential campaign organizations.

Organizing Secretary Morgan Komichi of Tsvangirai's MDC formation told reporter Blessing Zulu that the electoral body had not called any such meeting.

Legal sources in Harare said meanwhile that about 185 officials, staff and members of the Tsvangirai MDC formation arrested by police on Friday at the party's headquarters were expected to be released late Monday following a high court ruling saying that they must be arraigned or let go, as correspondent Irwin Chifera reported.

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