April 19, 2008 / 2:11 PM / 12 years ago

Zimbabwe's opposition leader not to go home right now

TORONTO (Reuters) - Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirari is not planning to go back to his country right now because he believes that if he returns he will face imprisonment and possible attack, the leader said to a Canadian newspaper.

“I’m mobilizing international support, I’m being effective in making sure that the issue of Zimbabwe remains on the international radar. It is no use going back to Zimbabwe and become captive. Then you are not effective. What can you do?”, Tsvangirari said in a interview with Canadian newspaper “The Globe and Mail” published on Saturday.

“Do you want a dead hero?”, he added.

The opposition leader left his country on April 8, 10 days after an election he is widely believed to have won, although the government’s electoral commission has yet to release the results.

Zimbabwe began a partial recount of votes from the March 29 elections on Saturday, despite opposition efforts to block it and widespread fears political stalemate could erupt into violence.

The recount in 23 of 210 constituencies could overturn the results of the parliamentary election, which showed President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF losing its majority to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change for the first time.

The delay in announcing results has given rise to opposition fears the recount could be a government ploy to steal the election.

Tsvangirari said in the interview that he would return imminently to Zimbabwe, but before he goes to Harare and face possible arrest, he must continue the shuttle diplomacy that he now views as the strategy most likely to unseat president Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since its independence in 1980.

Since he left the country, Tsvangirari has faced increasing calls to come home, but he believes the time to go back has not come yet.

“It’s like a father, when the father is away, children always ask, ‘Where is the father,’ but father may make an assessment that it is not opportune at that particular time to do certain things,” he said.

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