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Zimbabwe minister defies party orders to quit

Zimbabwe’s fragile unity government has been dealt a blow by a leadership struggle within it smallest faction.

The fight within a splinter group of the Movement of Democratic Change (MDC) is not expected to alter the balance of power between the two main players in the unity government, but it could raise tension in the Cabinet.

Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, who entered a power-sharing agreeement with President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai two years ago, said he does not recognise a party congress that deposed him a month ago. Industry and International Trade Minister Welshman Ncube replaced Mutambara as leader of the small faction of the MDC, and demoted Mutambara to head of a state department in charge of regional integration.

Violent clashes
“I have no intention whatsoever to leave the position of deputy prime minister [DPM]. There is no facility for a political party to recall a sitting DPM,” Mutambara told journalists.

Party spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said he had no immediate comment while Ncube was not reachable.

The main rival political parties at the weekend condemned a spate of violent clashes among their supporters, which Tsvangirai blames on Mugabe’s youth brigades.

Mugabe is pushing for an election two years ahead of schedule despite strong opposition from his rivals, who say the political climate is not yet right for a free and fair vote.

Mugabe, Tsvangirai and the third smaller group were forced into a coalition government two years ago after a disputed 2008 poll that was marred by violence and exacerbated an economic crisis in the country. — Reuters

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