Harare - Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai sought Thursday to allay fears of a split in his party after last week's suspension of a key senior official.
“The party is alive,” Tsvangirai told journalists, as opposing factions in the party fought over the removal of deputy treasurer Elton Mangoma.
“There may appear to be a crisis in the cockpit, but the crisis in the cockpit will be sorted out.”
Mangoma was forcibly removed after he suggested Tsvangirai should step down as leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the aftermath of last year's election defeat to veteran ruler Robert Mugabe.
His call sparked furious disagreement within the party that degenerated into physical attacks, with suspected Tsvangirai loyalists beating Mangoma in front of the party's headquarters. Two other top officials escaped the attack.
“Some have mistaken the robust debate in this party as a sign of disintegration, but I want to assure you that we continue working towards achieving unity so that we become much bigger and better,” said Tsvangirai.
The party's treasurer Roy Bennett, who is exiled in South Africa, and other officials have made similar calls for Tsvangirai to resign after losing to Mugabe in the July 31 general elections.
Seen as the most credible challenger to Mugabe's nearly 34-year hold on power, the MDC was formed in 1999 by an alliance of civic and trade union groups.
In 2006, the party split over a disagreement over whether to contest elections to choose senators.