Thousands of people in Zimbabwe gathered on Tuesday for the burial of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, whose death from cancer exacerbated divisions within a movement preparing for elections just months away.
A hearse carrying Tsvangirai’s body in a white casket drove slowly through the crowds to a school ground near his rural home in eastern Zimbabwe.
Rival leaders have vied for control of the opposition MDC-T party after the death last week of Tsvangirai, a longtime opponent of former President Robert Mugabe who once entered into a flawed power-sharing arrangement with him after disputed elections.
“Our leaders are going to unite,” Nelson Chamisa, the new head of the opposition party, said at the burial.
He said he had a condolence letter from Mugabe but refused the crowd’s calls that he read it and instead handed it to a member of Tsvangirai’s family.
Chamisa’s authority has been challenged by two other MDC officials, Thokozani Khupe and former Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri. The MDC-T party holds the second-largest number of seats in Zimbabwe’s parliament.
Mugabe resigned after a military takeover in November, and his successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, says elections will be held as scheduled this year.
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