Zimbabwean opposition leader rejects president’s call for dialogue

Chamisa insists he will only attend talks if they are called by a neutral party
Zimbabwe’s opposition party Movement for Democratic Change Alliance (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa addresses the Commission investigating the post-election violence of the August 1 in Zimbabwe, in Harare on November 26, 2018. – Zimbabwe’s opposition leader distanced his party today from post-election protests on August 1 in which six people were killed and several others wounded after soldiers opened fire. Testifying during an inquiry probing the killing of the six people, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa said his party was not a perpetrator but rather a victim of state-sponsored violence. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP)

Zimbabwean opposition leader Nelson Chamisa snubbed an invitation by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to join a national summit on Wednesday, just weeks after security forces crushed protests over the worsening economy.

“He is not attending,” Chamisa’s spokesman Nkululeko Sibanda told reporters ahead of the meeting of political leaders, scheduled to take place at the presidential offices.

Chamisa, who insists he won last July’s presidential elections, said he was in favour of dialogue but would only attend talks if they were called by a neutral party.

“The dialogue should be facilitated by someone who is neutral, rather than Mnangagwa being an umpire when his election is in dispute,” said Sibanda.

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Mnangagwa tweeted:

But Chamisa tweeted that the “presidency is disputed” because of “rigged presidential election result”:

The meeting, due later on Wednesday afternoon, is taking place against a backdrop of worsening economic troubles.

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The crisis reached breaking point in January when tens of thousands took part in nationwide protests after Mnangagwa more than doubled fuel prices.

The demonstrations were brutally crushed, leading to the deaths of at least 12 people, along with documented cases of torture and sexual assault at the hands of the security forces.

Hundreds of people including trade union leaders and opposition politicians were detained.

Sibanda derided the meeting called by Mnangagwa as a ruse to divert attention from the abuse.

Mnangagwa, who took over from long-time ruler Robert Mugabe, has pledged to revive Zimbabwe’s sickly economy and end its international isolation.

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The economy has been in a downward spiral for more than a decade, with cash shortages, high unemployment and recently a scarcity of staples such as bread and cooking oil.

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