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Page last updated at 16:58 GMT, Thursday, 29 May 2008 17:58 UK

Zimbabwe's Makoni calls for unity

Simba Makoni
Mr Makoni once served in Robert Mugabe's cabinet

Simba Makoni, who came third in Zimbabwe's presidential election on 29 March, says he wants the run-off vote in June to be abandoned.

Mr Makoni, once President Robert Mugabe's finance minister, said there should be a unity government instead.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai beat Mr Mugabe in the first round, but not by enough to avoid a run-off.

Mr Makoni said the widespread political violence will not stop unless the second round is cancelled.

Earlier this week, Mr Tsvangirai said more than 50 members of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party had been killed in the political violence since 29 March.

Large numbers of people had also been displaced, he said.

President Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party denies supporting violence and says the West is trying to demonise Zimbabwe.

'Paralysed'

Zimbabwean journalist Brian Hungwe in the capital, Harare, said that with the presidential run-off just five weeks away, many thought Mr Makoni would take the opportunity on Thursday to endorse a presidential candidate.

But Mr Makoni told a press conference in Harare that the country "cannot afford another election".

"Effective government functions have been paralysed since the launch of the election campaigns in January 2008," he said.

"The people have been under immense political pressure since the beginning of the year, which... is now intensified by the violence of the last month."

But he said he had been in touch with both political parties, who said a unity government could be debated only after the announcement of the presidential run-off results.

Mr Makoni, who stood as an independent in March and took 8.3% of the vote, said he felt the way forward was for everyone to work together for national reconciliation, a platform on which he originally campaigned.





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