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Dissident Sikhala Challenges Leadership of Zimbabwe's Mutambara MDC

Turbulence continued Friday in the formation of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara as suspended party member Job Sikhala declared in a news conference that he was the legitimate leader of the party.

Sikhala vowed to call a party congress at which the rank and file would rally behind him. But it was unclear whether the party executive member had any substantial following.

Correspondent Irwin Chifera of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported from Harare.

In a related development, the High Court today dismissed - with costs - an urgent application by expelled Mutambara MDC lawmakers Abednico Bhebhe, Njabuliso Mguni and Norman Mpofu, along with national executive member Alex Goosen, contesting their expulsion.

House Speaker Lovemore Moyo, meanwhile dismissed the MDC formation's threat to bring charges against him for failing to unseat the formation's expelled lawmakers.

Moyo told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that parliamentary procedures must be followed and he cannot act on political party whims.

Some observers saw the disarray in the MDC formation as a continuation of the personality clashes that characterized the 2005 split of the original MDC giving rise to the rival formations led by Mutambara and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who heads the largest grouping.

But political analyst Farai Muguwu of the Center for Research and Development in Mutare said he believes the disarray reflects an attempt by the former ruling ZANU-PF to put someone in charge of the formation who will undermine Mr. Tsvangirai's grouping

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