Zimbabwe's main rival political parties on Saturday condemned a spate of violent clashes among their supporters, which Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai blames on President Robert Mugabe's youth brigades.
In the last two weeks, Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has traded accusations with Mugabe's ZANU-PF party over attacks on some MDC members in townships around the capital Harare, including the burning down of a satellite party office.
In a rare joint statement by the rival parties -- which was also signed by a small third party in Zimbabwe's unity government -- the ZANU-PF and MDC Harare provincial leaders called for an end to political violence, and the police to act.
But they did not apportion blame on any party, saying investigations were still in progress.
"We agreed that what is happening in Harare is not good for our country and and is completely against the spirit of the global political agreement signed by our leaders," they said in reference to a pact on Zimbabwe's power-sharing government.
"We believe it is within our power to stop the violence, which poses a threat to the lives of our people," they said, adding that it only required political will and police help.
Tsvangirai says ZANU-PF militants, led by war veterans, are targeting MDC structures ahead of a possible general election later this year, while ZANU-PF rejects the charge, and accuses its opponents of provoking clashes for propaganda purposes.
Critics say Mugabe, who co-led Zimbabwe's independence war in the 1970s, has used veterans of that war as crack political troops in his battles to hold onto power.
Zimbabwe is likely to postpone a parliamentary election that President Robert Mugabe's party wanted by mid-year in order to allow completion of constitutional reforms, a state-owned newspaper reported on Sunday.
Mugabe is pushing for an election two years ahead of schedule despite strong opposition from his rivals that the political climate is not yet right for a free and fair vote.
Mugabe, 87 later this month, and Tsvangirai were forced into a coalition government two years ago after a disputed 2008 poll which was marred by violence and exacerbated an economic crisis in the country.
The unity government, which also includes a small MDC faction led by Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube, is credited with stabilising an economy crushed by hyperinflation and reducing political tension.
But analysts say tension and violence is likely to rise ahead of the next general election, which is expected to follow a referendum on a new constitution the parties are working on.
The Zimbabwe coalition has been hobbled by quarrels over the pace of political reforms, policies and state positions, and Mugabe has said he sees no need to extend the coalition beyond the middle of this year.
ReutersLast Mod: 05 Şubat 2011, 16:16