Mugabe backs new opposition party in Zimbabwe against President Emmerson Mnangagwa
A retired Zimbabwean general and a close aide of ex-president Robert Mugabe has formed a political party to challenge President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the polls scheduled mid 2018, the new party has announced.
Last November, Robert Mugabe was forced to step down following a de facto military coup. Sources close to the former leader say he is bitter over his departure after 37 years in office and has given his support to the New Patriotic Front (NFP) party.
Ambrose Mutinhiri, a veteran of Zimbabwe’s 1970s independence war, quit the ruling ZANU-PF and gave up his parliamentary seat last Friday, met Mugabe on Sunday to brief him about the latest developments, an NPF statement said.
The NPF said it was formed by ZANU-PF members and Zimbabweans“ outraged by the unconstitutional and humiliating manner in which President Mugabe was criminally ousted from leadership … by real criminals who have shamefully damaged Zimbabwe’s fledgling democracy”.
Mnangagwa said in January Zimbabwe would hold transparent elections by July and he would respect the result if the opposition won – a pledge crucial to unlocking urgently needed financial assistance and repairing relations with Western powers and international financial institutions.
Ambrose Mutinhiri, an ethnic Zezuru like Mugabe, has no significant political base. He joins the ranks of other opposition political parties like the Movement for Democratic Change, whose founding president Morgan Tsvangirai died from cancer last month, and Joice Mujuru, a former Mugabe deputy.
Mutinhiri once served as a minister in Mugabe’s government.
Members of the G40 faction and self-exiled former cabinet ministers Patrick Zhuwao and Jonathan Moyo have been the leading public faces of the NPF before the announcement of Mutinhiri as party leader.
The new opposition party says its ideals revolve around upholding the values and democratic ideals of the liberation struggle, preservation of the historic land reform and empowerment policies.
The NPF also said it was approaching the Constitutional Court in Zimbabwe as well as appropriate regional, continental and international bodies to challenge the legality of the new government.
The Kootneeti Team - Africa Desk
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