Mutambara accused the faction of Morgan Tsvangirai, the main MDC leader, of making unreasonable demands during the talks and failing to sign an agreed unity pact.
   
"In the absence of an agreement, we have no choice as a political party but to go right ahead and provide leadership in this country," he said.

Divided movement

The movement split in 2005 and had been trying to agree on a pact to unite behind Tsvangirai to challenge Mugabe, who turns 84 later this month.

Tsvangirai said talks between the two camps had fallen apart due to differences over how many candidates to field in the Matabeleland province, where the MDC is particularly strong.
   
"The opposition has always spoken about creating an alternative government but where making important decisions is concerned, they have been found wanting"
Augustine Timbe, political analyst
"The National Council [MDC's main decision making body] disagreed on the selection of candidates, causing a delay of a single MDC taking shape," he said.

The opposition had threatened to boycott the March 29 polls if Mugabe's government refused to adopt a new draft constitution agreed between the two sides.

The charter has not been adopted but the MDC has confirmed its two factions will take part.

Analysts say that the divisions in the MDC camp had made it virtually impossible for it to win.

"The opposition has always spoken about creating an alternative  government but where making important decisions is concerned, they have been found wanting," Augustine Timbe, a political analyst, said.
  
Godfrey Chikowore, an analyst in the University of Zimbabwe's Institute of Development Studies, agreed the opposition's chances looked worse than ever.
  
"If the opposition was serious it should have put its house in order long back," he said.