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Obama Victory Well Received In Zimbabwe, For Different Reasons

Zimbabwean political leaders, still embroiled in the aftermath of the country's own March presidential election, on Wednesday greeted the election of Barack Obama as U.S. president as a development with positive local ramifications.

The Movement for Democratic Change formation headed by Morgan Tsvangirai, founder of the opposition party and prime minister-designate since the signature of a power-sharing agreement with the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe, said Obama's victory on Tuesday represented "a victory of hope, faith, change...values and dreams which have underpinned our fight as a movement against dictatorship."

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai MDC formation told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the U.S. election was instructive for Zimbabwe.

Speaking on behalf of ZANU-PF, former ambassador to China and ZANU-PF Information Committee member Chris Mutsvangwa also congratulated Obama, saying the historic victory could pave the way for improved bilateral relations.

In Harare, U.S. Ambassador James McGee offered remarks at an embassy event marking the end of the American election cycle. McGee said that he was "very proud" to be a U.S. citizen, adding that "what has happened in the United States...makes me want to work even harder to bring peace and democracy here in Zimbabwe."

McGee added, "I hope that we can all re-dedicate ourselves to doing that."

Meanwhile, correspondent Loirdham Moyo reported that residents of the eastern border city of Mutare similarly welcomed Obama's victory, some saying the democratic process that brought an African-American to power sets an example for African leaders.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Advocacy Officer Gladys Hlatshwayo offered the caveat that Obama's election may not significantly alter U.S. policy on Zimbabwe, as incumbent President George Bush has already adopted a tough position with Harare.

One Studio 7 listener sent a text that, "The example given by Mr. Bush of accepting the result of the election should teach Mugabe a lesson to go by." Another listener named Ray wrote: "Now that you are in power Mr Obama can you do anything possible to save our Zimbabwe?" From another listener: "Obama I salute you, remember to assist the Zimbabwean people. Americans, I salute you example-setters."

In the country's power-sharing crisis, meanwhile, the Mugabe government accused President Ian Khama of Botswana of interference in Harare's internal affairs after he said a new presidential election might be needed if talks to resolve the deadlock fail.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, chief ZANU-PF power-sharing negotiator, described Khama's statement, and his meeting with Tsvangirai, as "extreme provocation."

Meanwhile, the South African Broadcasting Corp. quoted Jacob Zuma, president of the ruling African National Congress, as saying that Zimbabwean leaders should not be allowed to use delaying tactics to derail the power-sharing process.

Mutsvangwa said Khama was trying to interfere in Zimbabwe's internal affairs, but MDC spokesman Chamisa dismissed this contention.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe