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ZIMBABWE: Tsvangirai treason trial to go ahead

JOHANNESBURG, 11 August 2003 (IRIN) - The treason case against Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), is expected to proceed after the country's High Court ruled on Friday that there was sufficient evidence against him of conspiring in a plot to kill President Robert Mugabe.

The court dismissed similar charges against MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube, and the party's shadow agriculture minister, Renson Gasela, local newspaper The Daily News reported.

The state's case hinges on a videotape of a meeting in Canada between Tsvangirai and political consultant Ari Ben-Menashe, which it says captured Tsvangirai discussing Mugabe's "elimination".

Tsvangirai has denied these claims, arguing the video was doctored to discredit the MDC.

Currently free on bail, he faces a possible death sentence if convicted of the plot.

The court's decision came amid speculation that the MDC and ruling ZANU-PF may agree to resume church-brokered talks. In recent weeks members of the clergy have been shuttling between the parties in an attempt to break the political impasse.

On Monday Mugabe lashed out at what he said were local and international attempts to unseat him. The South African news agency SAPA reported that although Mugabe made no direct mention of the MDC during his address at the annual Heroes' Day commemoration, the president called on Zimbabwe's "internal enemies" to "repent" and work in unity with the government.

Talks between the government and the MDC broke down in April 2002 after the opposition went to court to challenge the presidential election result, which they alleged was stolen.

Themes: (IRIN) Governance

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