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Zimbabwe's Mnangagwa Rules Out Forming Coalition Government

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa (R) shakes hands with the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the country's main opposition party, Morgan Tsvangirai (L), who has been battling cancer, during a visit at his home in Harare on January 5, 2018. The visit came as Zimbabwe's political parties prepare to begin campaigning for elections due later this year. AFP PHOTO / Jekesai NJIKIZANA

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has ruled out forming a coalition government after visiting opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Friday.

Zimbabwe is due to hold elections in 2018 in the first big test of Mnangagwa’s legitimacy after he rose to power in November last year following a de facto military coup which saw veteran leader Robert Mugabe reluctantly cede power.

Mnangagwa has previously indicated polls could be held as early as March, and is under pressure from civil society, would-be investors and opposition parties to implement political reforms following Mugabe’s 37-year grip on power.

“Currently there is no need,” Mnangagwa told reporters, referring to the possibility of forming a coalition with Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF party and the MDC were partners in a government of national unity for five years until 2013, eventually breaking down as acrimony between the parties re-emerged.

Tsvangirai, who is due to challenge Mnangagwa in national elections, has been receiving treatment for colon cancer since 2016 but says he is in good health.

“He is fine, he is recuperating very well and says he will soon again be having a medical check-up in South Africa,” said Mnangagwa after visiting Tsvangirai at his home.

MDC Party Vice President Nelson Chamisa had this to say about President Mnangagwa’s visit:

“It is a welcome thing. It is African to care for one another and it is very Zimbabwean. This is the new politics we want to see in Zimbabwe. We are very appreciative of what has been done," Chamisa said.

"The politics of peace, the politics of working together and feeling for one another. This is the direction," he added. "And we hope that it will be the talk that will be walked and the walk that will be sustained, because going forward, we want to see a peaceful election."

Zimbabwe is scheduled to hold elections around the middle of the year. Tsvangirai has not indicated if he will run, given the status of his health. Last month, at a party congress, the ruling ZANU-PF endorsed President Mnangagwa as its candidate for the 2018 elections.

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