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Has Zimbabwe’s Mugabe been bolstered or weakened by Tsvangirai’s decision to abandon poll?
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s decision to abandon a controversial run-off ballot against Zimbabwe’s strongman President Robert Mugabe would surprise few. Western governments and aid agencies have for weeks voiced the same accusations of violence and intimidation against the Mugabe camp which Tsvangirai cited in concluding that a run-off election stood no chance of being free or fair.
Hours before Tsvangirai’s decision, his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) reported that its rally in the capital Harare had been broken up by pro-Mugabe youth militia, something Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party denied.
Tsvangirai had appeared to be in a dominant position to win a run-off poll after defeating Mugabe in the first round — but only if the vote was going to be fair. Agreeing to participate in the run-off was indeed a gamble the opposition leader took in the face of contrary arguments by even some of his supporters who felt it was naive to expect a fair vote in a terrain dominated by Mugabe and his associates.
What happens now after Tsvangirai’s decision to pull out of the June 27 second round ballot? How will African governments and the international community react? What should they do? What options are left for Tsvangirai and his MDC? Could there still be negotiations, and if so should these still be brokered by South African President Thabo Mbeki? What does all this mean for the people of Zimbabwe? Will this reinforce Mugabe’s position in power or hasten his demise? Have your say.