President Robert Mugabe accuses the opposition of attempting to tarnish next week's run-off vote while opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is due to announce if he will participate in the vote on Sunday. A. Duval Smith reports.
Members of the opposition have gone into hiding while waiting for the runoff election of June 27 amidst violence and intimidation. Watch the report of Alex Duval Smith and Enos Jongwe.
Zimbabwe's veteran leader Robert Mugabe has said opposition claims of violence ahead of next week's presidential run-off election are aimed at tarring the crunch vote, state media reported Saturday.
"They have been saying their supporters are being beaten up by our soldiers," the Herald newspaper quoted Mugabe as telling an election rally in the second city Bulawayo on Friday.
"They say this so that they can later say the elections were not free and fair. Which is a damn lie!" the 84-year-old president said.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has said some 70 of its supporters have been killed in a campaign of intimidation ahead of Friday's vote.
Its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has been detained five times as he has sought to campaign, and MDC number two Tendai Biti has been charged with subversion and faces the death penalty.
A court has ordered Biti held in jail until at least July 7 -- well beyond the run-off date.
Zimbabwe's police chief has said the opposition was the "main culprit" behind political violence in the country and pledged to employ "all necessary force" ahead of the run-off.
Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe's 1980 independence from Britain, was beaten in the March 29 first-round vote by Tsvangirai, who -- according to official figures -- did not garner an absolute majority.
He has vowed to keep the opposition from power in his lifetime and pledged to fight to keep it from happening.
Date created : 2008-06-21