Hundreds welcome Zimbabwe opposition leader’s body

Supporters of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) attend a memorial service to mourn the passing of former Prime Minister and Morgan Tsvangirai in Bulawayo on Feb. 17, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 17 February 2018
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Hundreds welcome Zimbabwe opposition leader’s body

HARARE: Hundreds thronged Zimbabwe’s main airport Saturday as the body of opposition icon Morgan Tsvangirai, who died of cancer in neighboring South Africa, arrived home for burial.
Tsvangirai, a fearless opponent to the ruling ZANU-PF party, died on Wednesday at the age of 65 after a lengthy battle with colon cancer.
Supporters and officials from his Movement for Democratic Change party, gathered at Robert Mugabe International Airport, broke into Christian hymns and party songs as the plane bearing his remains landed.
“We have received the body of our president, our hero, our icon, our patriot and great leader,” said one of Tsvangirai’s three deputies Nelson Chamisa.
The body was taken to a military camp where the bodies of national heroes lie in state before burial.
Tsvangirai will be buried on Tuesday in his rural home in Buhera, 250 kilometers (150 miles) south of Harare.
Opposition compatriots earlier held memorial services in the capital Harare and in the second city of Bulawayo to honor Tsvangirai who was often derided by former president Robert Mugabe as “a stooge of the west.”
In Bulawayo, Tsvangirai’s former deputy Welshman Ncube praised Tsvangirai for forgiving even his persecutors in government who beat him up.
“He had no bitterness at all, no bitterness that over the years they vilified him, arrested him, beat him and laid treason charges against him,” Ncube said. “He was selfless.”
He said Tsvangirai called him to his house in January and hinted that he would not live to see the country’s upcoming elections expected by July this year.
“The meeting was very emotional. He said ‘Let us be realistic. I won’t make it. I won’t be with you in this campaign’.” The election is the first to held without Robert Mugabe in nearly four decades.
Tsvangirai was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016.
The former trade union stalwart led the MDC since its formation in 1999, posing the most formidable challenge to ZANU-PF’s nearly four-decade rule.
In 2008, he beat long-time ruler Mugabe in the first round of presidential elections, narrowly come short of garnering enough votes to be declared outright winner.
However he then pulled out of the second round of voting, which was marred by violence including the killing of around 200 opposition supporters.
Tsvangirai’s death came as tensions over his succession are threatening to tear the MDC apart handing an advantage to President Emmerson Mnangagwa who took over from Mugabe following a military takeover in November.


Algerian PM calls on President Bouteflika to seek 5th term

Updated 42 min 9 sec ago
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Algerian PM calls on President Bouteflika to seek 5th term

  • Bouteflika, who uses a wheelchair, hasn’t yet made known if he’ll run next year, by which time he’ll be 82.
  • He has led Algeria since 1999 and won a fourth term in 2014 despite suffering a stroke the previous year.

ALGIERS: Algeria’s prime minister has called on President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to seek a fifth term in April 2019, despite his age and partial paralysis.
Bouteflika, who uses a wheelchair, hasn’t yet made known if he’ll run next year, by which time he’ll be 82.
Ahmed Ouyahia said Thursday at the opening of his party’s national council that Bouteflika twice saved the North African nation, with his policy of reconciliation that allowed extremist insurgents who nearly brought down the state in the 1990s to rejoin civilian life and by protecting Algeria against the Arab Spring chaos that toppled leaders in Tunisia and Libya.
Ouyahia heads the National Democratic Rally, the No. 2 force in the governing coalition after the FLN, whose chief last October also called for Bouteflika to run.

Bouteflika, head of the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN), has led Algeria since 1999 and won a fourth term in 2014 despite suffering a stroke the previous year.
The president made two rare public appearances in a wheelchair in April and May, at the inauguration of a mosque and for the extension of the Algiers metro.
In late May, a group of academics and political figures urged him not to seek a fifth mandate, citing his "advanced age" and "dramatic state of health", and warning against "unhealthy forces" trying to convince him to stand.