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Latest update : 2008-06-27

Zimbabweans head to the polls in a one-man presidential run-off after President Robert Mugabe rejected calls to delay the vote. The European Commission on Friday called the vote illegitimate. (Report: R.Tompsett)

Click here to read the commentary by FRANCE 24's Armen Georgian: "Mugabe and Tsvangirai willing to negotiate...what?"



Addressing his supporters from inside the Dutch Embasssy where he sought refuge, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai urged voters to cast their ballot for outgoing President Robert Mugabe if their lives were at stake.


"If possible, we ask you not to vote today,” Tsvangirai said in a letter emailed to South Africa on Friday. “But if you must vote for Mr Mugabe because of threats to your life, then do so."


Unlike the March 29 election, there were hardly any people queuing to vote in the run off presidential election when polling stations opened on Friday.


Back in March, a steady stream of Zimbabweans who work in South Africa returned to Zimbabwe to vote. No such spectacle this time, France 24 correspondents reported from the border town of Beibridge.


“They presumably did so to support the MDC,” France 24’s Alex Duval Smith said. “Now that they don’t have that option anymore, they’re staying.”


“Mugabe’s strategy of terror succeeded”


Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of the race last Sunday after a wave of violence left more than 80 of his MDC supporters dead. “Mugabe’s strategy of terror succeeded,” says France 24’s Caroline Dumay. “People are scared.”


The outcome of the election where Mugabe is the only contestant left is clear. In his statement, Tsvangirai warned that the election results would be “meaningless” and that the election amounted to a “shameful humiliation.” 


“Mugabe is going to win, of course,” Dumay explained. “But it’s going to be interesting to see how many voters will choose Tsvangirai because his name is still on the ballot.”


An African solution for an African probem?


The international community has widely condemned Mugabe for his autocratic method.


US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called the vote a "sham" and said Washington would consider how to pressure Mugabe at the UN Security Council.


G8 foreign ministers gathered in Kyoto warned in a joint statement that “they would not recognize the legitimacy of a government that doesn’t reflect the will of the people of Zimbabwe.”


But, said Duval Smith “the international community has failed to understand that this kind of condemnation irritates Mugabe even more. It’s not because the people he resents and believed have colonized his country condemn him that he’s going to change his mind. What we need is much something much tougher like economic sanctions and we’re not there yet.”


For MDC members like Roy Bennett, talking to France 24 from South Africa, “this is an African problem and it needs an African solution.”


 “We have time on our side to get our structures strong and to wait such time as to have a free and fair election supported by an African union transitional authority, supported by Sadec toward a new Constitution and a new Zimbabwe,” Bennett said.



Date created : 2008-06-27