Zimbabwe’s opposition party – Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) – says it is suspending its leader Morgan Tsvangirai, amid deepening divisions in its ranks.
A statement issued by the party after a meeting in Harare accused Morgan Tsvangirai of a “remarkable failure of leadership”.
It also said Morgan Tsvangirai had deviated from the party’s democratic founding principles.
Morgan Tsvangirai, 62, lost a third election challenge to veteran President Robert Mugabe in 2013 and defied calls to stand down after this defeat.
The MDC leadership is reported to have been riven with in-fighting for months since then.
Several other senior party figures were also reported to have been suspended at Saturday’s meeting, and some suspended members to have been reinstated.
The MDC statement said the party had been “transformed into a fiefdom of the leader” under Morgan Tsvangirai. It also accused him of sponsoring a culture of violence against MDC members not aligned with him.
MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti, who spoke to journalists after the meeting, said Morgan Tsvangirai and some other senior officials had “betrayed” the MDC’s struggle, AFP reported.
But an MDC spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora, maintained that Morgan Tsvangirai remained the MDC’s legitimate leader.
“This was not a national council meeting,” he told AFP.
From 2009 to 2013 Morgan Tsvangirai served as prime minister in a fragile power-sharing government, with Robert Mugabe remaining Zimbabwe’s president.
That unity government ended with the elections in July 2013.
Robert Mugabe’s party won a huge majority in the vote, which Morgan Tsvangirai dismissed as fraudulent.