'Throw MDC in dustbin'

President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF mob gathered for the annual conference on Friday with an official newspaper demanding new elections as Zimbabwe's power-sharing government had "failed".\r\n

"The marriage of convenience between Zanu-PF and the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) formations has failed to work," said The People’s Voice.

"The conference must therefore prepare Zanu-PF for next year’s elections so that the MDC is thrown into the dustbin of history where it belongs."

Zimbabwe is in the throes of a vicious battle between Mugabe and his Prime Minister and arch-foe Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC, who formed a power-sharing administration six months after a chaotic presidential vote in 2008.

Around 3000 Zanu-PF delegates were assembling in the eastern city of Mutare where it is expected they will rubber-stamp Mugabe’s push for polls in the first half of 2011.

"Every delegate is ready for the battle of elections next year," Mike Madiro, a Zanu-PF provincial chairperson, told AFP.

Mugabe, who at 86 is Africa’s oldest leader, will address delegates and officially open the conference later in the afternoon.

In March 2008, Tsvangirai won the presidential election defeating Mugabe, but he fell short of the required majority resulting in a run-off ballot which the MDC leader refused to take part in, allowing Mugabe to triumph unopposed.

On Thursday, Tsvangirai said only a presidential vote would address the issue of "illegitimacy" following the disputed run-off poll, but he refused to specify any date when elections should take place.

The MDC has previously said that credible polls are not possible until 2012 at the earliest.

Foreign diplomats in Harare have recently warned that fresh elections could plunge the country back into bloodshed and chaos.

Tsvangirai agreed to join Mugabe in a unity government less than two years ago, partly to end deadly violence that his party says killed more than 300 of its supporters around the time of the inconclusive presidential elections.