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Tsvangirai's withdrawal dismays world leaders

Latest update : 2008-06-23

Zimbabwe’s ruling party says it will maintain the presidential run-off despite Morgan’s Tsvangirai’s decision to withdraw. The opposition leader later said he was conditionally ready to talk with Mugabe. (Report by S.Silke)

Hear Zimbabwe's grim inside story from FRANCE 24 correspondents A. Duval Smith and E. Jongwe in their report 'Trapped in a Harare nightmare'.


The international community sounded the alarm over opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s decision to pull out of the run-off vote against Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe set for June 27.


On Monday, all eyes turned to South African President Thabo Mbeki, the regionally appointed mediator for Zimbabwe, who reportedly wants Mugabe and Tsvangirai to negotiate following the opposition's withdrawal, a spokesman for Mbeki told the AFP.


In a sign that a negotiated outcome to the deadlock was possible, Tsvangirai told a South African radio on Monday that he was ready to negotiate with Mugabe's ruling party only if political violence stopped, according to Reuters.


"We are prepared to negotiate with ZANU-PF but of course it is important that certain principles are accepted before the negotiations take place. One of the preconditions is that this violence against the people must be stopped," he said.


“Everybody is now talking about a transitional government much like the kind of government that was created in the eighties just after the independence war,” reports FRANCE 24’s correspondent Caroline Dumay in Cape Town, South Africa.


“The MDC wants someone outside Zimbabwe to head this government,” adds Dumay, saying the former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, had been raised as a possible candidate.


Zimbabwe's ruling party, ZANU-PF, declared on Monday that the run-off was still on, despite Tsvangirai decision to drop out of the presidential race. But Dumay notes that the government has a strong reason to maintain the elections as the constitution stipulates that the newly elected president can appoint 30 senators to the Senate.

Sounding the alarm

Faced with Tsvangirai’s decision to withdraw, UK’s Foreign Secretary David Miliband accused Mugabe of using violence to cling to power while UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon said Tsvangirai’s move was a "deeply distressing development," according to his spokesman.


Speaking in Jerusalem, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner lambasted Mugabe, saying Paris would not accept the "fake election" of a man he deemed was "nothing but a crook and a murderer."


Tsvangirai bowed out of the race on Sunday, saying “the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) cannot ask [voters] to cast their [ballot] on the 27th when that vote would cost them their lives." Since Tsvangirai beat Mugabe on March 29 with a vote total just short of the 50% threshold, the MDC leader was detained five times while campaigning for the run-off.

Date created : 2008-06-23