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Tsvangirai returns home despite plot fears

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  • Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai returns to Zimbabwe
  • Tsvangirai says he feels safe despite fears of a possible assassination bid
  • Tsvangirai faces a runoff election against President Robert Mugabe June 27
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HARARE, Zimbabwe (CNN) -- Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai returned to Zimbabwe Saturday for the first time since leaving the country shortly after the controversial March 29 election.

Morgan Tsvangirai has been away from Zimbabwe trying to seek support from international leaders.

Tsvangirai -- who contends he won the presidential race against longtime Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe -- returned despite what his party said was a plot by the country's military to assassinate him and other party leaders.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, after a long delay, ruled that neither candidate won a necessary majority of the vote and set a date of June 27 for Tsvangirai to again face Mugabe in a runoff vote.

Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have called for international observers to be allowed to monitor the runoff election, but Mugabe's government has refused the demand.

Tsvangirai is expected to tour hospitals in Harare to visit victims of post-election violence.

An MDC spokesman said two party members were found dead Wednesday night after being abducted from their homes in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare.

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Tsvangirai's spokesman George Sibotshiwe said Saturday that the opposition leader and the entire MDC leadership are "at risk from this brutal regime." When contacted by CNN, a Cabinet member denied that the government had any possible role in the alleged plot, and said the report was an effort by the MDC to gain international sympathy.

Chen Chimutengwende, Zimbabwe's minister of public and interactive affairs, accused Tsvangirai of "trying to paint a false picture of what Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe authorities are like."

"There is no plot against him and there has never been any plot against him and he knows that," Chimutengwende said. He called the reports from Tsvangirai's party "an effort to get sympathy from the international community."


There have been numerous reports from the MDC and church groups since the March balloting about kidnappings, torture, and other violence, including the deaths of opposition party members. They say the violence targets opponents of Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party.

Mugabe has ruled the southern African country since it became independent 28 years ago.

All About ZimbabweRobert MugabeMorgan Tsvangirai

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