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The decision has been met by a storm of international condemnation of the violence, with increasingly powerful voices speaking out from Africa. On Tuesday President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal and ANC leader Jacob Zuma joined the condemnation and called for the vote to be postponed.
But there is no sign that Mugabe and his supporters, including the powerful security chiefs, will budge. They are vowing to press ahead with the election despite suggestions Mugabe will have no legitimacy if he wins this vote.
Perhaps Tsvangirai had little choice. President Wade said he fled to the Dutch embassy on Sunday — where he is still seeking refuge — minutes before soldiers came to his home. Western powers have defended his decision.
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.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai detained twice in a week, U.S. and British diplomats forced from their cars by police, rallies banned, aid workers stopped from working, reports of violence from across the countryside. The campaign for Zimbabwe’s presidential election run-off on June 27 is being hard fought, literally.
The opposition accuses President Robert Mugabe of responsibility for violence and says 65 people have been killed. The ruling party blames Tsvangirai’s followers and says Mugabe’s Western foes and some aid agencies have been campaigning for the opposition.
After a month of withholdingZimbabwe’s presidential poll results, electoral authorities on May 2 announced what was widely known to be the real outcome: President Robert Mugabe had lost the vote. The announcement gave opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai 47.9 percent of the vote but said he faces a runoff after failing to gain enough votes for an outright majority. Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change denounced the result as scandalous and maintained its stand that it had won more than 50 percent of the vote and that Mugabe’s 28-year rule was over.
The MDC faces a huge dilemma. If it boycotts a runoff poll, it would hand victory to Mugabe by default. But in the view of the MDC, human rights groups and Western governments, no fair or credible runoff poll can be held in Zimbabwe under a current climate of violence and intimidation they say is orchestrated by Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF. The MDC and Mugabe’s critics at home and abroad have also condemned the unprecedented delay in announcing the presidential result as part of the government’s grand plan to rig the vote in favour of Mugabe.