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Zimbabwe PM Tsvangirai Says Gov't Polarized, Refuses Rush to Elections

Mr. Tsvangirai said soldiers and armed vigilantes have been deployed in the rural areas to recreate the terror of June 2008 in the approach to the presidential run-off election from which he eventually withdrew

In a major address at the two-year mark of Zimbabwe's national unity government, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said progress under the power-sharing arrangement has been stalled by the "increased polarization" of its parties, and he said new elections could not be called without intra-government consultations and major reforms.

Speaking at a public gathering at a Harare hotel Tuesday evening, Mr. Tsvangirai accused the former ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe of concentrating on holding onto power by any means instead of cooperating with his Movement for Democratic Change to meet the needs of the Zimbabwean people.

"For Zanu-PF, politics has no single rule and their game is based on the need to retain power." Mr. Tsvangirai told his audience. He added: "The net result is that the noble objectives of the coalition government have been rendered impotent as our colleagues choose to prioritize power retention as their deliverable."

The prime minister accused state media of “promoting violence, hatred and genocide.” State-controlled radio, television and print media have been awash with reports blaming a recent surge in political violence in the capital and its suburbs on Tsvangirai's MDC with members of President Mugabe's ZANU-PF its main victims.

Mr. Tsvangirai said soldiers and armed vigilants have been deployed in the rural areas in recent months to recreate the terror of June 2008 in the approach to the presidential run-off election from which he eventually withdrew in protest of such violence.

The prime minister said top military and security officials have engaged in treasonous and anti-democratic rhetoric. Zimbabwe's "securocrats," he charged, "have deliberately defied civilian authority in the country." He said Mr. Mugabe either is aware of this or "there is now a Third Force that has assumed control in this country."

ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo rejected Mr. Tsvangirai's allegations, accusing the former opposition leader's party of stoking violence political violence in the country to give the impression of instability and convince the West to maintain the travel and financial sanctions it has maintained against Mr. Mugabe and others for years.

Political analyst Trevor Maisiri said ZANU-PF is an impediment to government action.

ZANU-PF meanwhile has reacted angrily to the European Union’s decision, announced yesterday, to extend sanctions on Mr. Mugabe and other senior officials of his party, while removing 35 individuals off the list including spouses and the deceased.

Those removed included Council of Chiefs President Fortune Charumbira, Zimbabwe Cricket President Peter Chingoka, Deputy Education Minister Lazarus Dokora and Deputy Economic Planning Minister Samuel Undenge.

ZANU-PF spokesman Gumbo called the EU decision neo-colonialist, accusing Mr. Tsvangirai of working in league with Western nations imposing such sanctions.

Tsvangirai MDC deputy spokesperson Thabitha Khumalo said ZANU-PF knows what must be done for such Western sanctions to be lifted as it has long demanded.

Political analyst Charles Mangongera said the removal of 35 individuals from the EU sanctions list does not mean that bilateral relations have greatly improved.

EU Member of Parliament Geoffrey Van Orden, spearhead of the European Parliament's
campaign for democratic change in Zimbabwe, welcomed the EU decision.

"While there has been some economic progress in Zimbabwe, little has changed in the political situation and democratic rights continue to be seriously abused," he said.

"Mugabe and Zanu-PF have flouted the key terms of the Global Political Agreement they signed with Tsvangirai's MDC party more than two years ago," he said.

Van Orden said Mr. Mugabe "still clings on to the levers of power and manages to trample on the basic rights of the Zimbabwean people."