HARARE, April 28– Zimbabwe’s leading opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T), insists that Tsavangirai, the former prime minister in the previous coalition government, is still in charge of the party and that secretary general Tendai Biti faces expulsion for attempting a coup.

Biti on Saturday convened a national council meeting of the MDC which resolved to suspend Tsvangirai and several other top party leaders for allegedly violating the party’s constitution.

Other leaders said to have been suspended are national chairman Lovemore Moyo, his deputy, Morgan Komichi, vice-president Thokozani Khupe, organising secretary Nelson Chamisa and spokersman Douglas Mwonzora.

However, Mwonzora, who addressed the media at the party’s Harvest House headquarters here Sunday, dismissed the meeting organized by Biti as “bogus and unsanctioned” and its resolutions as a legal nullity.

“Members of Harare East constituency (which Biti represents in Parliament) have petitioned that the secretary-general be expelled from the party and from Parliament, (and) we are going to consider that,” Mwonzora said.

He added: “Biti’s dismissal is not a forgone conclusion; the genuine members of the national council are going to meet next week to decide on the issue.”

Mwonzora said under the MDC-T’s constitution, Biti had no authority to convene a national council meeting as it was the prerogative of the party president and national chairman.

He said only 33 out of 195 MDC national council members who included nine of the party’s 91 Members of Parliament attended the meeting held by Biti and other pro-reform members.

Mwonzora said the party had been aware that Biti was trying to mastermind a coup but wanted to give dialogue a chance. He described Biti as a “confused flip-flopper” insisting that the MDC-T secretary general had violated the constitution.

“The problem with Biti is that he confuses the good lawyer in him, the politician in him and the opportunist in him,” Mwonzora said, adding that Biti had effectively formed his own party and would “bear the consequences of his actions”.

“Morgan Tsvangirai and his leadership remain the legitimate leaders of the MDC-T,” the spokesman said.

Mwonzora said Biti and expelled deputy secretary-general, Elton Mangoma, were already under investigation on allegations of financial misappropriation.

The division rocking the opposition party follows spirited campaigns by senior MDC-T members for leadership renewal.

An increasing number of MDC-T members argue that Tsvangirai, who has been trounced by President Robert Mugabe in all elections since the opposition party’s formation in 1999, was no longer fit to remain in charge.