Unity governing idea ‘premature'

Zim- babwe's opposition candidate said Tuesday that talks of a unity government with President Robert Mugabe's party were premature, as the idea was raised again as a way to end the violence that has engulfed the country for two months.

Morgan Tsvangirai told reporters in the Zimbab- wean capital that he was focused on his campaign for the presidential runoff election, less than three weeks away.

“A government of national unity does not arise,” he said, adding that it might be an issue after the vote on June 27.

Earlier Tuesday, a former member of Mugabe's party said that preliminary talks on sharing power were under way. But Mugabe's Deputy Information Minister, Bright Matonga, said he could not confirm reports the two sides were discussing sharing power. An opposition spokesman also refused to comment.

Tsvangirai, 56, beat Mugabe and two other candidates during the first round of presidential voting March 29, but official results did not give him the 50 percent plus one vote necessary to avoid a runoff.

Tsvangirai expressed confidence that he would win the runoff despite the violence and intimidation his supporters have faced since the first round. The opposition leader says 66 of his supporters have been killed.

“Mugabe can beat us, but we will vote him out,” he said.

The idea of a coalition government has been raised previously, but the sticking point has long appeared to be ZANU-PF's insistence that Mugabe remain president of any coalition government.

Tsvangirai has pledged to bring moderates in Mugabe's party into his administration, but not Mugabe.