An official with Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change opposition party says its leader Morgan Tsvangirai has died at age 65.

Elias Mudzuri, a vice president of the MDC, says Tsvangirai died Wednesday evening in a Johannesburg hospital. Tsvangirai had been battling colon cancer for two years.

Tsvangirai for years was the most potent challenger to longtime ruler Robert Mugabe and even became prime minister in an uncomfortable coalition government.

Tsvangirai came tantalizingly close to winning power in 2008 when he got the most votes in the national election, but according to official results he was just short of the more than 50 percent majority needed to win outright. Tsvangirai boycotted the runoff, citing widespread violence against his supporters, handing Mugabe the victory.

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