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Mugabe attends Susan Tsvangirai memorial service

  • Story Highlights
  • Hundreds of people gathered at the Glamis Stadium in the capital, Harare
  • Mugabe: "Tell our supporters that the issue of violence must end"
  • Susan Tsvangirai died Friday after car was hit by a truck head-on
  • Tsvangirai: There was no foul play, "It was an accident that ... took her life"
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HARARE, Zimbabwe (CNN) -- Zimbabwean President Mugabe joined mourners Tuesday at a church service for Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's wife, who was killed last week in a car wreck.

Morgan Tsvangirai addresses mourners Monday at his house in Harare soon after his return from Botswana.

Robert Mugabe speaks at the memorial service for Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's wife, Susan.

"We are doing our best that we create a conducive environment and tell our supporters that the issue of violence must end," Mugabe told hundreds of people at a service at Mabelreign Methodist Church in Harare.

Afterward, about 30,000 people gathered at Glamis Stadium in Harare to remember Susan Tsvangirai. Many wiped away tears as speakers addressed them, and some later held up signs that said, "We miss you mother," and "Goodbye Mama." Tsvangirai, wearing dark sunglasses, stood impassively during one part of the ceremony.

The service at the stadium was an extension of the church service, as the church could not accommodate all those who wanted to attend, Tsvangirai's spokesman, James Maridadi, told CNN. Video Watch Tsvangirai at the memorial service »

"Most of us are in pain, but the majority of us are so shocked we could not feel the pain," Movement for Democratic Change Secretary-General Tendai Biti told the crowd at Glamis Stadium, according to a MDC statement.

Susan Tsvangirai was "an activist and revolutionary in her own right," Biti said. "She believed in the same values as her husband in wishing to bring about democratic change in Zimbabwe through a new, people-driven constitution."

Biti said Susan Tsvangirai had given support and guidance to her husband, the longtime opposition leader and head of MDC. "As a result, we must take her passing on as an inspiration and must stop feeling pity for ourselves," Biti said, the MDC statement reported.

The couple was traveling Friday from Harare to their rural home in Buhera when a truck collided with their vehicle, killing Susan Tsvangirai. The prime minister suffered minor injuries in the wreck, which occurred along a busy two-lane highway.

Mark Weinberg, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Harare, told CNN the truck belonged to a U.S. Agency for International Development partner who delivers medical supplies as part of a U.S.-British program.

Edwin Tsvangirai, the prime minister's eldest son, also spoke Tuesday to those gathered at the stadium, and said he saw the president differently after hearing Mugabe's words at the church service.

"I would like to thank the president of Zimbabwe for his words today that made me change my understanding of him," he said.

Mugabe said the government will provide a state-assisted funeral for Susan Tsvangirai, who will be buried in Buhera on Wednesday.

Some people traveled long distances to attend the stadium service. Marriam Garwe said she traveled 200 kilometers (124 miles) to be there.

"I want to pay my last respects to Mrs. Tsvangirai," said Garwe, 43, who is from Mutoko. "I am sad that she died before Mr. Tsvangirai is the president."

Members of the MDC initially said that the prime minister believed Friday's crash was an assassination attempt.

Tsvangirai dismissed those assertions on Monday.

"When something like that happens there is speculation, but I want to assure you, if it was foul play it is one in a thousand," he said after returning home from neighboring Botswana. "It was an accident that unfortunately took her life." Video Watch Tsvangirai say there was 'no foul play' »

After the crash, Biti said police should have provided better security for Tsvangirai. The wreck might not have happened, he said, if a police escort had been on hand.

Tsvangirai has long been a leading opposition figure in Zimbabwe. His agreement to join the coalition government with Mugabe last month seemed to resolve an impasse created by the disputed presidential election between Mugabe and Tsvangirai last year.


Tsvangirai received the most votes in the March 2008 election, but he fell short of the 50 percent required to avoid a runoff. He withdrew as a candidate in the runoff, citing political violence and intimidation targeting his supporters.

Negotiations between the two sides culminated in the power-sharing agreement..

All About ZimbabweRobert MugabeMorgan Tsvangirai

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