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Zimbabwean PM Tsvangirai Moves to Mend Party Divisions Ahead of Congress

Foreign-based provinces of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai expressed anger because they were excluded from nominations for national party posts

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Monday moved to mend division in his Movement for Democratic Change formation Bulawayo which had sparked violence in the approach to the party's national congress opening in that city later this week.

Mr. Tsvangirai met with the warring factions of Senator Matson Hlalo and Parastatals Minister Gorden Moyo and ordered a truce. Supporters of the two politicians battled in the streets of Bulawayo late last week following Moyo's disputed to the position of party provincial chairman for Bulawayo. Hlalo refused to concede, alleging voting abuses.

Elections for other provincial posts were called off due to the violence, which threatened to undermine the personal prestige of Mr. Tsvangirai. Before being named a minister, Moyo was a senior aide to Mr. Tsvangirai as a minister of state in his office.

Mr. Tsvangirai on Monday ordered Hlalo's camp to respect Moyo's victory, adding that those perpetrating violence would be expelled from the party.

He said elections for other party posts would be held Tuesday.

Tsvangirai said the election of two other Bulawayo executive members, Provincial Secretary Reggie Moyo and Deputy Chairperson Dorcas Sibanda will also stand.

Hlalo told VOA that his camp will adhere to Tsvangirai's instructions.

Sources in the party said some activists feel Moyo, a relatively new member, does not deserve to be granted the chairmanship ahead of long-serving members like Hlalo. But party members loyal to Moyo said he is more qualified for the job.

They also accused Hlalo of retaining violent tendencies from his days as a member of the former ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe

Addressing reporters after the party peace talks in Bulawayo, MDC spokesman Nelson said Tsvangirai’s intervention marks an end to violence and confusion in the party.

Meanwhile, foreign-based provinces of the Tsvangirai MDC formation were voicing anger because they were left out of the nominations for national posts.

The party constitution says the three external assemblies in South Africa, Britain and the United States are allowed to make nominations. External assembly members say that as they contribute heavily to the party's coffers they should not be denied a say.

Political analyst Walter Nsununguli Mbongolwane said the exclusion of the MDC external provinces is likely to lead to further tension within the party.

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