Nearly 200 Zimbabwe Opposition supporters released.

This is from AP. Mugabe simply refuses to admit defeat. What I find rather surprising is that the recount confirms the opposition won in most cases. This shows that there is enough independence in the counting process that Mugabe cannot control events. This must be the case with the presidential vote as well and is the reason the results have not been announced. While Bush is certainly correct in his criticism of the situation in Zimbabwe it is probably counterproductive. Mugabe stock in trade is to explain problems in terms of foreign intervention and in supporting the opposition Bush and others just give Mugabe more ammunition.

Nearly 200 Zimbabwe opposition supporters released
By ANGUS SHAW – 1 hour ago

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Police on Tuesday released nearly 200 people who were arrested last week in a raid at opposition headquarters, while President Bush called on Zimbabwe's neighbors to step up the pressure on longtime leader Robert Mugabe.

Many of the 215 people arrested on Friday had fled to Harare to escape mounting violence and intimidation in rural areas that used to be ruling party strongholds but turned against Mugabe in the March 29 elections.

Twenty-nine people, mainly women and children, were released almost immediately. The rest were freed from various police stations in the capital Tuesday in accordance with a High Court order issued Monday, opposition defense lawyer Alec Muchadehama said.

One month after the vote, results from the presidential election still have not been released.

Independent observers say that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe, but did not secure an outright majority necessary to avoid a runoff. Tsvangirai insists he did, while Mugabe has stayed silent.

Bush said at a news conference Tuesday that "Mr. Mugabe has failed the country."

"The violence and the intimidation is simply unacceptable. The government is intent upon and is intimidating the people there," he said.

He stopped short of saying that Mugabe had lost the election, but said it was clear that the country had voted for change. He also said "it's really incumbent on the nations in the neighborhood to step up and lead."

Tendai Biti, the second-in-command in Tsvangirai's opposition party, said Tuesday that he hoped United Nations would send a special envoy to Zimbabwe to assess the situation and help solve the crisis.

He was at U.N. headquarters in hopes of making his appeal to the Security Council. But the council met without him behind closed doors, and Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon had not yet decided whether to send an envoy.

"The secretary-general has not decided if it's necessary, or if there's anything that we should be doing at this point," said U.N. political chief B. Lynn Pascoe.

The standoff was frustrating to Biti, secretary-general of the Movement for Democratic Change.

"There is a humanitarian concern. There's the violence, the fascism that is taking place there, the state of emergency. There is a massive food shortage and the use of food as a political weapon," he said in an interview with The Associated Press.

"Those are clearly not regional and sub-regional issues. Those are U.N. issues, and the (U.N.) Charter is very clear on that."

On Monday, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission concluded the re-count of 23 disputed parliamentary seats, the state-run Herald newspaper reported. The commission would thereafter "invite presidential candidates or their election agents for the verification and collation of the results," the Herald said Tuesday.

State radio reported that the verification process would take at least three more days.

Despite fears of vote-rigging during the parliamentary recount, the published results confirmed that the opposition held a majority of seats for the first time in Zimbabwe's history.

Tsvangirai addressed a joint news conference Monday with Arthur Mutambara, the head of a breakaway faction, to say they had healed their divisions and were now united against Mugabe.

"Old man, go and have an honorable exit," Tsvangirai said in a message to the 84-year-old autocrat who has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980.

"In a parliamentary democracy, the majority rule," Tsvangirai said alongside Mutambara at the news conference. "He should concede that ... he cannot be president."

Human Rights Watch said the ruling party, police and army have "sharply intensified a brutal campaign of organized terror and torture against perceived opposition supporters that threatens the general population."

But the Herald newspaper, a government mouthpiece, accused the opposition of fomenting violence. It said that some Tsvangirai supporters "attacked soldiers and the general public" in Manicaland province. It said one person had been killed and two injured.

It said police suspected that perpetrators of the violence were being given refuge at opposition headquarters.

Associated Press Writer Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.


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