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Page last updated at 14:44 GMT, Friday, 9 April 2010 15:44 UK

Zimbabwe's Bishop Abel Muzorewa dies

By Peter Biles
BBC News

Bishop Abel Muzorewa on 24 April 1979 in Salisbury (Harare)
Bishop Muzorewa lost elections to Robert Mugabe

One of the most prominent political figures in the turbulent years before the independence of Zimbabwe, Bishop Abel Muzorewa, has died, aged 85.

He was seen by many as a moderate black leader at a time of extreme political change. But black militants saw him as a puppet of white politicians.

Bishop Muzorewa entered politics in the 1970s when nationalist politicians were either imprisoned or in exile.

He opposed the armed struggle that was ultimately to lead to independence.

For a brief period in 1979, as white rule ended, he was the prime minister of an interim government when his country became known as Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.

But the administration was short-lived.

And when inclusive elections were held in 1980 after the Lancaster House Agreement, which led to independence, it was Robert Mugabe who swept to power.

Bishop Muzorewa's party only managed to win three of the 100 seats in parliament.

His moment in the political limelight was over.



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