Zimbabwe opposition expels anti-Tsvangirai dissidents

HARARE Fri Apr 11, 2014 5:48am EDT

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HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's opposition MDC has expelled its treasurer and two senior party members for calling for leader Morgan Tsvangirai to quit, underscoring the rifts in the party in the wake of last year's landslide election defeat to President Robert Mugabe.

Treasurer Elton Mangoma angered Tsvangirai supporters when he published an open letter in January asking him to resign, arguing that he had failed to push through reforms while in a four-year power-sharing government with Mugabe.

Mangoma was suspended last month - a decision he is challenging in court - and has continued criticizing Tsvangirai in the media and at parallel party meetings at which he has denounced the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader.

MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said on Friday the party's National Executive and National Council - its top decision-making bodies - had summarily dismissed Mangoma the previous day for "denigrating the image of the party".

Two other officials who criticized Tsvangirai at an unsanctioned press conference last weekend were also chucked out, he said.

Tsvangirai, 62, has led the MDC since it was formed in 1999 to challenge Mugabe, the former Rhodesia's sole ruler since it gained independence from Britain in 1980.

However, the ex-labor union leader has failed to dislodge 90-year-old Mugabe in three elections, even though the MDC and Western governments have said they were not free and fair.

(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Ed Cropley)

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