Africa

Zimbabwe's Mugabe and Tsvangirai call for peace

Robert Mugabe (l) and Morgan Tsvangirai (r)
Image caption Robert Mugabe (l) and Morgan Tsvangirai (r) have spent a difficult two years governing together

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have called for tolerance as tension rises ahead of elections.

"We want to live in a peaceful country," Mr Mugabe said, after talks with Mr Tsvangirai, his long-time rival.

Mr Tsvangirai's MDC party has repeatedly accused pro-Mugabe militants of disrupting its rallies.

Polls are expected next year, ending the unity government formed in 2009.

The two leaders signed a coalition pact following the previous year's disputed election, in which Mr Tsvangirai pulled out of the run-off against Mr Mugabe, citing political violence.

Their alliance has been marked by frequent disagreements.

After meeting Mr Tsvangirai in the capital, Harare, Mr Mugabe said they were no longer enemies.

"Yesterday, we fought each other and we were enemies. Today, I say [that] we cannot avoid each other."

"We are bound together by our nationality, singing the same national anthem, flying the same national flag."

'Protect the people'

Mr Tsvangirai said Zimbabweans were "tired" of rhetoric and the perpetrators of violence should face justice.

"Zimbabweans want a new era where knives, machetes, knobkerries [sticks] and guns, as instruments of violence and repression, are no longer fashionable," he said.

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Media captionPresident Robert Mugabe releases a song to woo young voters

On Sunday, Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party said supporters of Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party had stoned its rally outside Harare.

The MDC says this was the latest incident of Zanu-PF disrupting its activities ahead of elections.

It also accused the police of firing tear gas at its headquarters last week.

No date has yet been set for the elections, in which the two are expected to face each other once more.

The BBC's Brian Hungwe in Harare says the two parties are expected to draft a code of conduct to set the rules for a peaceful election.

There have been numerous reports in recent weeks of MDC supporters being beaten up in townships around Harare, he says.

Mr Tsvangirai called on the security forces not to unleash violence.

"I urge law enforcement agents to begin to take their national responsibilities seriously," he is quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.

"State agents, especially the police the police, must protect the people and not harm the people."

The military and police backed Mr Mugabe in the 2008 election, with some officers saying they would never accept Mr Tsvangirai as president.

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