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Wednesday, 13 February, 2002, 17:59 GMT
Mugabe 'assassination' tape denied
Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
Mr Tsvangirai said there was no truth to the allegations
Rageh Omaar

The opposition candidate in Zimbabwe's crucial presidential elections next month has strongly denied allegations made in an Australian television documentary that he discussed a plan to assassinate his rival, President Robert Mugabe.

The film purports to show Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change, talking about the elimination of President Mugabe.

The eight minutes of edited film was part of a one-hour documentary.

The video, which appears to have been filmed secretly, shows four men in a room discussing political scenarios in Zimbabwe.

'Smear campaign'

The SBS Dateline programme said it was a meeting between representatives of a political consultancy in Canada and a man described in the film as, "the MDC's top man".

Robert Mugabe
The MDC claims Mr Mugabe's party is trying to discredit Mr Tsvangirai

However, the black and white film is of poor quality and the identities of the men cannot be seen.

In it, the figure said to be Mr Tsvangirai describes the procedure in the country immediately after "the head of state has been eliminated".

Mr Tsvangirai has reportedly dismissed the charges as a crude smear campaign and says that there is no truth to them.

His MDC party issued a press release saying that this assassination story is similar to numerous other baseless stories put out, it says, at the instigation of the ruling Zanu-PF party.

The BBC's Rageh Omaah
"The eight minutes of edited film was part of a one-hour documentary"
See also:

13 Feb 02 | Africa
Zimbabwe poll monitors row grows
05 Feb 02 | Africa
Mugabe's election masterplan
11 Feb 02 | Africa
Newspaper attack in Zimbabwe
01 Feb 02 | Africa
Mugabe launches defiant campaign
12 Feb 02 | Africa
EU observers await Zimbabwe fate
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