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Wednesday, 28 June, 2000, 22:00 GMT 23:00 UK
Zimbabwe politicians ponder future
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai (left) and President Robert Mugabe
Senior government figures and opposition leaders have been holding separate meetings in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, after last weekend's pivotal parliamentary elections.

The main opposition group, the Movement for Democratic Change - which won almost half the seats - chose its vice-president, Gibson Sibanda, as parliamentary leader.

The way forward is to appoint a new cabinet, swear in new MPs and the work of government starts

Information Minister Chen Chimutengwende
The party's leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, failed to win his parliamentary seat and is now setting his sights on the country's presidency.

A party statement released on Wednesday offered few details of future policy, but denounced President Robert Mugabe's economic policies and threats to seize white farms.

"Our real work begins now," Mr Tsvangirai said, adding the MDC would take immediate legal action to contest 10 election results they allege were rigged.

Voting may have been fair, but not the campaign
Mr Mugabe's party won just five more seats than the MDC, but constitutionally the president chooses 20 extra seats and this provision is expected to give his party a comfortable majority in parliament.

The council of chiefs elect a further 10 seats.

Mr Mugabe praised the electorate for voting peacefully in a speech broadcast on radio and television on Tuesday night.

He said that he looked forward to working with the opposition.

Land threats remain

President Mugabe also said in his address that he would push ahead with controversial plans for land redistribution, including the seizure of white-owned farms.

Farm squatters were backed by Mr Mugabe
Senior officials of Zanu-PF have also indicated that the government would continue with its controversial land policy.

Information Minister and senior Zanu-PF executive Chen Chimutengwende told reporters on Wednesday: "We are committed to our programme."

But he added: "We are also committed to peace and order."

"The way forward is to appoint a new cabinet, swear in new MPs and the work of government starts," Mr Chimutengwende said.

Mr Mugabe's government has earmarked about 841 white-owned farms to be forcibly taken and given to landless black Zimbabweans.

The violent seizure of some farms - along with the beating up and killing of opposition supporters - drew international condemnation in the run-up to the election.

Commonwealth's comments

Earlier, observers from the Commonwealth said violence and intimidation in the months before the elections had impaired the voters' freedom of choice. Their findings back up earlier conclusions reached by a European Union delegation which said that intimidation had prevented open campaigning by the opposition.

But the head of the Commonwealth delegation, former Nigerian military ruler, Abdulsalami Abubakar, did say the counting process had been commendably transparent.

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See also:

28 Jun 00 | Africa
Zimbabwe democracy comes of age
27 Jun 00 | Africa
Zimbabwe opposition cries foul
27 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Cook calls for fresh start in Zimbabwe
26 Apr 00 | Africa
Who owns the land?
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