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I'll go back for run-off, says Tsvangirai; ZIMBABWE.

Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he will return to his homeland - despite threats to his life - to take part in a presidential run-off against President Robert Mugabe that could defeat the long-time leader.

Mr Tsvangirai, addressing reporters in the South African capital, said his supporters would feel "betrayed" if he did not face Zimbabwe's ruler of 28 years in the run-off.

"A run-off election could finally knock out the dictator for good," he said. "I am ready and the people are ready for the final round."

Mr Tsvangirai said he would return to Zimbabwe to begin a "victory tour" shortly. No date has been set but aides said Mr Tsvangirai would return in the next two days.

Mr Tsvangirai maintains he won the first round outright and that official figures showing a second round was necessary were fraudulent.

Opposition officials and independent human rights activists have accused Mr Mugabe of orchestrating violence against the opposition since the first round on March 29. The violence has kept Mr Tsvangirai and other top opposition figures out of Zimbabwe since the first round.

Mr Tsvangirai left soon after the news conference for a meeting in Luanda with President Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola, which heads the Southern African Development Community election observer mission.

Observers inside and outside Zimbabwe have questioned whether a second round could be free and fair, with the opposition unable to campaign freely because of attacks and threats. Mr Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF, meanwhile, has already launched its run-off campaign.

No run-off date has been set. Mr Tsvangirai said it should be held within 21 days of the May 2 announcement of presidential results, but Zimbabwean government officials have said the electoral commission has up to a year to hold the vote.

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights has said 22 people have died and 900 have been tortured in post-election violence, while 40,000 farm workers have been displaced in an effort to prevent them from voting in the run-off.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 12, 2008
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