Zimbabwe's Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai loses battle to cancer, dies aged 65

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Tsvangirai died in South Africa, where he was being treated for colon cancer at a hospital in Johannesburg.

Tsvangirai's death firmly places Mnangagwa, the ZANU PF veteran who took over after ousting veteran ruler Robert Mugabe, on the path to victory in elections that are to be held before July.

Tsvangirai had a tumultuous and era-defining career in Zimbabwean politics.

An MDC spokesperson said that "we should brace for the worst".

The eldest of nine children, Tsvangirai worked at a textile mill in Mutare in the east, and later joined a nickel mine in Bindura, a town in the country's north.

Mr Tsvangirai founded the MDC in 1999, after a decade as the Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.

Perhaps the most instantly recognizable image of Tsvangirai are the grisly pictures of a beaten Tsvangirai were seen around the world in 2007 when police detained and beat him for organizing a protest in Harare. In 2000 the MDC rattled Mugabe's Zanu-PF by coming within a few seats of beating it in parliamentary elections.

He recently stood and was accepted by the MDC-T and its allied parties as its presidential candidate for elections later in 2018, even though he knew he was terminally ill.

In 2002 a doctored video surfaced of Morgan Tsvangirai purportedly plotting with a former Israeli intelligence agent to assassinate Mugabe.

Tsvangirai claimed to have won a majority and said that the results could have been altered in the month between the election and the reporting of official results.

A party that tried so hard to unseat former President Robert Mugabe for decades before a military coup ended his rule late a year ago.

His first wife, Susan, was killed in the head-on collision. Tsvangirai walked away from crash, but Susan was killed.

After running in a tightly contested election against Mugabe in 2008, Tsvangirai pulled out of the second round voting, stating a free and fair vote was impossible as his supporters faced violence and imprisonment at the hands of Mugabe's security forces. He alleged widespread fraud but withdrew a legal challenge to overturn the outcome.

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