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Zimbabwe’s Tsvangirai Says Suspension as Party Leader Is Illegal

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change, rejected an April 26 announcement of his suspension and said those seeking his ouster should do so through “proper channels.”

MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti announced on Saturday that Tsvangirai, 62, organizing secretary Nelson Chamisa, deputy president Thokozani Khupe, party chairman Lovemore Moyo and Morgen Komichi, the party’s deputy chairman, had been suspended for violating the party’s constitution. Biti and other officials failed to meet at the MDC’s headquarters when the decision was made, rendering it invalid, party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said in a phone interview today from the capital, Harare.

“Those wanting leadership change can do so at the party’s congress later this year, through the proper channels,” Tsvangirai said in a separate phone interview from the city.

The MDC shared power with President Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party from 2009 until last year, when the party lost its parliamentary majority in an election it said was flawed. Tsvangirai said last month the party had resolved a leadership dispute that led some senior members to urge him to step down.

Biti, the party’s second in command and a former finance minister, said today that if Tsvangirai and the four other “suspended” officials wished to challenge the suspension, they should do so through Zimbabwe’s courts.

“Mr. Tsvangirai has failed as a leader and isn’t suitable,” Biti said yesterday. “We’ve excercised our constitutional right to disassociate ourselves from his group.”

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions Secretary-General Japhet Moyo said in a phone interview today that his organization, the MDC’s oldest ally, would remain loyal to Tsvangirai.

“You can’t just hold a meeting and announce people have been suspended, it’s childish,” Moyo said. “There are procedures that have to be followed.”

Zimbabwe has the world’s second-biggest platinum and chrome reserves after South Africa. It also has deposits of gold, coal and iron ore.

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