HARARE, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe's government accused opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of treason, saying Thursday that he and Britain are plotting to overthrow the president. Tsvangirai denounced the allegations as "outrageous."
President Robert Mugabe's government claimed in Zimbabwe's state-run newspaper that Tsvangirai is plotting an "illegal regime change" with the help of Britain, the former colonial power. The paper cited a letter from Britain's prime minister — which the opposition says is a forgery.
The accusation comes amid a government campaign of arrests, assaults and other intimidation designed to suppress political dissent following a March 29 vote that Mugabe is widely believed to have lost. Results from the presidential vote have not been released some three weeks after the ballot.
Independent tallies suggest Tsvangirai won, but not with enough votes to avoid a runoff. The electoral commission plans a re-count of presidential votes on Saturday, saying it is verifying ballots and investigating anomalies.
The opposition says Tsvangirai won outright, and accused Mugabe of engineering a delay to secure his 28-year grip on power.
On Thursday, Tsvangirai — in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press in Johannesburg, South Africa — dismissed the government's allegations as "outrageous."
He said his Movement for Democratic Change party was formed with a commitment to "democratic change" in Zimbabwe, not a forceful overthrow of the Mugabe regime.
Zimbabwe's government also said Thursday that it will pull the licenses of any transportation workers who heed opposition calls to strike for the release of the country's long-delayed presidential election results.
With Zimbabwe's economy already devastated by soaring inflation and 80 percent unemployment, the opposition has had difficulty getting the few Zimbabweans with jobs to stay home as part of a nationwide strike to press for the release of results.
But the state-run Herald newspaper said a number of public buses have stopped running in adherence to the strike.
The buses "have been deliberately withdrawing their services since Monday," Transport Minister Chris Mushohwe told the paper. Mushohwe said those workers are violating the terms of their licenses, which require them to provide public transportation.
"Once we withdraw the operating licenses, we would not be renewing any for those who are not operating," he said.