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Zimbabwean opposition leader Tsvangirai buried in rural home

February 20, 2018

Movement for Democtratic Change supporters pay their last respects to the party's leader Morgan Tsvangirai, in Harare, Monday, Feb, 19, 2018. Zimbabwes veteran opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai died on Feb 14 aged 65, bringing an end to his long campaign to lead the country. Interim party President Nelson Chamisa said the party would win the elections scheduled for later this year as a tribute to the deceased leader.(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

BUHERA, Zimbabwe (AP) — Thousands of people in Zimbabwe gathered on Tuesday for the burial of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, whose death from cancer exacerbated divisions within a movement preparing for elections just months away.

A hearse carrying Tsvangirai’s body in a white casket drove slowly through the crowds to a school ground near his rural home in eastern Zimbabwe.

Rival leaders have vied for control of the opposition MDC-T party after the death last week of Tsvangirai, a longtime opponent of former President Robert Mugabe who once entered into a flawed power-sharing arrangement with him after disputed elections.

“Our leaders are going to unite,” Nelson Chamisa, the new head of the opposition party, said at the burial.

He said he had a condolence letter from Mugabe but refused the crowd’s calls that he read it and instead handed it to a member of Tsvangirai’s family.

Chamisa’s authority has been challenged by two other MDC officials, Thokozani Khupe and former Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri. The MDC-T party holds the second-largest number of seats in Zimbabwe’s parliament.

Mugabe resigned after a military takeover in November, and his successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, says elections will be held as scheduled this year.

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