Given the conditions the opposition is facing and the fact that the army and police have both said that they will not support an opposition victory, pulling out seems a prudent action. Only some type of insurgency will overthrow Mugabe it seems unless Mugabe himself is assassinated and some other leader more amenable to negotiation with the opposition takes over. The problem seems to go beyond Mugabe himself though and relate to his party, the army, and the police.
Opposition considers pulling out of Zimbabwe vote
June 20, 2008 at 6:43 AM EDT
HARARE — Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is considering whether to pull out of the June 27 presidential run-off election amid fears it will be a charade, a spokesman said on Friday.
Some African nations, the United States and former colonial power Britain have said they do not believe the poll would be free and fair because of growing violence that the opposition blames on veteran President Robert Mugabe.
Mr. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change says at least 70 of its supporters have been killed since he defeated Mr. Mugabe in a March 29 vote but fell short of the outright majority needed to avoid a run-off, according to official figures.
“There is a huge avalanche of calls and pressure from supporters across the country, especially in the rural areas, not to accept to be participants in this charade,” MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told Reuters.
Mr. Chamisa did not say when the party would decide on participating in the run-off.
Mr. Mugabe, 84, is fighting to cling onto power in the country he has ruled since independence in 1980. Once prosperous, its economy is now ruined and millions of Zimbabweans have fled the political and economic crisis to neighbouring states.
Mr. Mugabe blames the election bloodshed on the opposition and has threatened to arrest MDC leaders.
Mr. Tsvangirai has been detained five times while campaigning this month and his lieutenant, Tendai Biti, is being held in custody on treason and other charges. A conviction could carry a death sentence.
A magistrate on Friday ordered that Mr. Biti, the MDC's secretary-general, remain behind bars until July 7, rejecting the party's bid to have him released.
“I'm of the view that there's reasonable suspicion to believe the accused committed the said offences. Accordingly the application is dismissed,” Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe said in a Harare court.
European Union leaders were set to issue a new threat of further sanctions on Zimbabwe on Friday, a draft summit statement showed. The EU has an arms embargo on Zimbabwe as well as visa bans and asset freezes on Mr. Mugabe and other officials.
The EU text, obtained by Reuters before the final working session of the two-day summit, said a free and fair election was critical to the resolution of a political and economic crisis in the former British colony.
But it stopped short of backing U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's assertion on Thursday that actions by Mr. Mugabe's government meant the run-off will not be free and fair.
EU leaders urged the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the African Union to deploy a significant number of election monitors and called for a swift and transparent vote count this time after lengthy delays in the first round.
“The European Council reiterates its readiness to take additional measures against those responsible for violence,” it said.
SADC, a group of 14 nations that includes Zimbabwe, is sending 380 monitors to Zimbabwe for the vote.
SADC ministers responsible for peace and security said on Thursday they doubted the election would be free after hearing initial reports from monitors, signalling growing impatience on the continent with Mugabe's authoritarian rule.
South African President Thabo Mbeki, mandated by the regional group to mediate in the crisis, visited Zimbabwe on Wednesday to discuss the crisis with Mugabe and the opposition.
Mr. Chamisa denied media reports that Mr. Mbeki had asked for the election to be cancelled in favour of a unity government.
“President Mbeki did not raise that issue. We raised the issue of electoral violence,” Mr. Chamisa said, declining to provide further details on the meeting. A spokesman for Mr. Mbeki also declined to comment on the matter.
The political impasse threatens to worsen the economic crisis in Zimbabwe, which is struggling with inflation over 165,000 per cent, 80 per cent unemployment and chronic food and fuel shortages.