Zimbabwe opposition leader 'confident of victory'

Published on Friday 23rd May 2008

Zimbabwe: Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said he will win Zimbabwe's 27 June run-off presidential poll, as he returned to Harare after weeks abroad.

The Movement for Democratic Change leader accused the ruling Zanu-PF party of seeking to "decimate" opposition structures ahead of the vote.

His first engagement was to visit supporters hurt in political violence.

Mr Tsvangirai's return was delayed amid an alleged army plot to kill him, which the ruling party said was "fantasy".

Polls on 29 March saw the country's veteran leader, Robert Mugabe, lose his parliamentary majority for the first time in two decades in power, BBC report said.

The MDC leader says he gained the more than 50% of the presidential vote needed to win without a run-off, but official results - released after long delays - said he gained 47.9%, with Mr Mugabe taking 43.2%.

Mr Tsvangirai said the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) would meet on Tuesday to discuss the possible deployment of peacekeepers and election monitors, amid fears that a Xanu-PF campaign of intimidation is making a fair second round impossible.

He said they would be of little use if not in place by 1 June.

He said he had been impressed by the supporters he met in hospital, and that he would win the run-off election.

"I saw people with scars and bruises. They said 'president, we will finish him off on June 27'."

"If Mugabe thinks he has beaten people into submission, then he will have a rude shock on the 27 of June," he said.

Correspondents say Mr Tsvangirai has been criticised for spending the last seven weeks abroad while hundreds of his supporters have been beaten up and at least 40 killed, according to human rights and opposition groups.

Hospitals have been struggling to cope with admissions, the BBC's Peter Biles in Johannesburg says, as a result of what is widely perceived to be a government campaign of intimidation against MDC supporters.