Zimbabwe opposition leader Tsvangirai expels party challenger

HARARE Tue Apr 29, 2014 11:14am EDT

Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti speaks at the 2013 Reuters Africa Investment Summit in Johannesburg, April 8, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti speaks at the 2013 Reuters Africa Investment Summit in Johannesburg, April 8, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Hutchings

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HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's opposition MDC Morgan Tsvangirai on Tuesday expelled party secretary general and former finance minister Tendai Biti, the latest installment in infighting that has effectively split the movement into two camps.

Biti's expulsion comes after his faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said at the weekend it had suspended Tsvangirai and six top party officials, partly over the failure to unseat veteran President Robert Mugabe.

"The national council noted the attempted coup by Tendai Biti and others and having formed their own party have ceased to be members of the MDC party," Tsvangirai told reporters on Tuesday.

"The national council mandated the leadership of the party to organize an early congress in October to re-energize and transform the organization."

Tsvangirai said the MDC would recall Biti and eight other officials from parliament.

The turmoil within the MDC is a boost for Mugabe, 90, whose ZANU-PF party has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980 amid charges of rigging recent elections.

(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa)

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