Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwean fighter for democracy, dies aged 65

Morgan Tsvangirai.
Morgan Tsvangirai. Photo credit: Reuters

Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has died after a two-year battle with cancer.

Mr Tsvangirai, 65, was leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). His death comes only two months after his longtime nemesis, Robert Mugage, was ousted in a coup after 37 years in charge of the African nation.

Mr Tsvangirai's death was announced on Thursday morning (NZ time) by Elias Mudzuri, acting president of the MDC and former Mayor of Harare, the Zimbabwean capital.

"We have lost our icon and fighter for democracy," said Mr Mudzuri.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, the party and the nation at this hour."

The first elections since Mr Mugabe's resignation are due to be held in May.

Mr Tsvangirai founded the MDC in 1999, after a decade as the secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.

His popularity wasn't lost on Mr Mugabe, whose security forces beat and tortured him in 2007 after authorities deemed an illegal gathering.

Newshub.

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