- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 29, 2008

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Zimbabwe’s divided opposition movement reunited after months of bickering yesterday, declared it had a majority in Parliament and told President Robert Mugabe to concede defeat in presidential elections.

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai and former rival Arthur Mutambara appeared at a joint news conference in South Africa to announce that Mr. Mugabe’s party was now the official opposition party in Parliament.

“In a parliamentary democracy, the majority rule,” Mr. Tsvangirai said. “[Mr. Mugabe] should concede that … he cannot be president.”

Results of the presidential race still have not been announced, a month after elections. Mr. Tsvangirai maintains that he is the outright winner, although independent observers said he fell just short of the majority needed to avoid a runoff.

Mr. Tsvangirai reiterated that he would not take part in a runoff.

“The question about a runoff doesn’t arise,” he said. “It doesn’t arise because of the simple fact that the people have spoken, the people have decided.”

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announced over the weekend that recounts of 18 out of 23 disputed parliamentary seats left initial results of the March 29 elections unchanged. This was enough to confirm the opposition’s control of Parliament for the first time since Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980.

Results of the final five disputed seats had been expected to be announced yesterday, but were not, and there was no word on when the presidential results would be released.

Original results from the elections showed opposition parties winning 110 seats to the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front’s 97. Three other seats are awaiting by-elections after the deaths of candidates.

“We are here to … say there will be no divisions among ourselves,” Mr. Mutambara said. “We are all going to work together in case Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF try to sabotage the will of the people.

“We are in control of Parliament. We are also controlling the Senate. This is the state of affairs in our country.”

Mr. Tsvangirai said the Movement for Democratic Change wanted to work with former finance minister Simba Makoni, who was the third presidential candidate in the elections. He said it also would approach sympathetic ZANU-PF lawmakers to ask whether they would switch sides.