Mugabe faces calls for change

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The Independent Online

As President Robert Mugabe opened the Zimbabwean parliament yesterday it reverberated to cries of " Chinja," change in the Shona language.

As President Robert Mugabe opened the Zimbabwean parliament yesterday it reverberated to cries of " Chinja," change in the Shona language.

In Africa Unity Square outside parliament, where he arrived displaying the trappings of power - a chain of office, a mounted police escort and an open-top, 1930s Bentley - thousands of supporters of the opposition MDC brandished red cards, calling on him to leave.

During the President's speech, only the presence of riot police prevented the MDC supporters singing protest songs to drown him out. One man said: "This man is not my president. When our president [the MDC leader, Morgan] Tsvangirai speaks, I will respect him."

Although Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF won a majority in the elections, the MDC's strong showing, winning a clean sweep in the capital and other towns, meant the atmosphere was virtually an MDC celebration. They are confident that after presidential elections in 2002, Mr Tsvangirai will conduct such ceremonies.

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