Zimbabwe's PM gets new poll ally _ former presidential rival who split votes in last elections

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A former Zimbabwean presidential candidate who garnered a small but significant number of votes in the last elections says he has joined forces with the nation's prime minister.

Simba Makoni said Monday he and his followers will back Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in the July 31 race against long-time President Robert Mugabe.

In violent and disputed elections in 2008, Makoni won 8 percent of the tally — stopping an outright win by Tsvangirai over Mugabe and leading to a presidential run-off.

Tsvangirai boycotted the runoff amid spiraling violence targeting his supporters.

Makoni flanked by Tsvangirai said the two had formed a "coalition for change" for the upcoming poll.

A small breakaway faction of Tsvangirai's party has refused to join a united front against Mugabe's party.