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Thursday, 12 June 2008

Conditions in Zimbabwe 'not conducive'

Harare - A month before a presidential election run-off, Zimbabwe's opposition said on Tuesday conditions were not conducive for a free and fair poll but still expressed confidence it would oust Robert Mugabe.

"Access to the state media is totally closed, holding rallies is almost impossible and we had to appeal to the high court to get an order to hold our last two rallies," the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) chief spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said.

"As of yesterday, at least 50 of our supporters had been killed in violent attacks. The perpetrators of this violence have devised a new strategy where they abduct key members of the party and after some days you find the victims dead."

He said hundreds of party supporters had fled their homes after attacks by ruling party militants.

"Our supporters are being displaced in rural areas and key players have been abducted and killed rendering our campaign crippled and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the army are working in cahoots to advance the cause of ZANU-PF," Chamisa said.

"But despite all the disadvantages, our candidate Mr Tsvangirai will win the election. Our campaign is code-named 'Let's Finish It' and we are saying all these things are birth pangs as we move into a new Zimbabwe."

Tsvangirai won the initial election on March 29, but failed to garner enough votes to avoid a run-off, according to disputed figures compiled the by the official electoral commission.

Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, launched his campaign for the run-off on Sunday, accusing Tsvangirai of seeking to return the country to colonial rule.

The 84-year-old blamed his poor showing in the first round on divisions within the ruling Zanu-PF party and urged his supporters to set their differences aside and rally behind him.