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Zimbabwe premier: Car crash was an accident

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[March 09, 2009]  HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Zimbabwe's prime minister said Monday he did not suspect foul play in the car crash that killed his wife and injured him, telling mourners "it is painful for us but we have to look forward."

Morgan Tsvangirai, wearing dark glasses over a swollen eye, addressed a crowd outside his home in Zimbabwe's capital after receiving medical treatment in neighboring Botswana.

Zimbabwe's long history of political violence blamed on President Robert Mugabe's forces -- including several assassination attempts on Tsvangirai -- fueled speculation that the Friday crash was not accidental.

But Tsvangirai told supporters: "In this case I want to say there is no foul play. It was an accident."

The couple's Toyota Land Cruiser collided with a truck carrying U.S. aid on the outskirts of the capital on a notoriously dangerous road.

State television said the truck swerved on an uneven stretch of the road, which, like many in Zimbabwe, is poorly maintained. Tsvangirai's spokesman said the car sideswiped the truck and rolled at least three times. The driver of the truck was expected to appear in court later Monday.

A rally in honor of Susan Tsvangirai will be held Tuesday on the prime minister's 57th birthday. The funeral will take place on Wednesday. The couple had been married for more than three decades and had six children together.


"We know that we shall all die, but let's celebrate the life of Susan because we have gone through trials and tribulations together," he said.

Tsvangirai said he had returned to Harare to resume his duties in Zimbabwe's unity government because that is what his wife would have wanted.

The death triggered an outpouring of grief across the country in a show of the couple's popularity. Thousands of mourners were keeping vigil outside the house where Susan Tsvangirai's body is lying in state.

"It is painful for us but we have to look forward ... because she would have wanted us to continue moving on," Morgan Tsvangirai said.

Tsvangirai traveled to Botswana on Saturday after spending one night in a Zimbabwean hospital following the crash.

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Last year he spent months in Botswana, fearing for his life at the height of a standoff with Mugabe -- the man with whom he formed a joint government in February.

Tsvangirai's party has called for an investigation into Friday's crash and has questioned the security measures for the prime minister.

The coalition was formed after a dispute over the presidential election nearly a year ago and months of state-sponsored violence against members of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change and independent political activists.

Zimbabwe has the world's highest official inflation rate, a hunger crisis that has left most of its people dependent on foreign handouts and a cholera epidemic blamed on the collapse of a once-enviable health and sanitation system.

[Associated Press; By ANGUS SHAW]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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