Global Politics

Zimbabwe at the breaking point

(First off, what's the significance of Tsvangirai taking refuge at the Dutch embassy?) I think it's a recognition that his life is in danger, that the death toll of MDC officials or supporters is over 80 and they're all well documented as a result of state-sponsored violence. (The spokesman for MDC described the people responsible for the raids as desperate, and took away over 60 people. Did these raids surprise you at all or is this what we've been hearing of?) This is what I had expected. We've seen that many of the victims of violence have fled to Hariri and sought refuge in the offices of the MDC, the opposition. These are the people who have now been taken away. (What is the strategy behind Tsvangirai's decision to pull out of the election?) I do think this is different, I think Tsvangirai has made a principled decision because the violence had reached unprecedented levels�wives of officials had been arrested and beaten, there are grizzly murders and I think Tsvangirai believed he could not ask people to vote for him if their lives were at stake. Tsvangirai also believes that everyone in Africa knows about the levels of violence and he thinks Africa won't believe this is a legitimate election. (Many American officials have condemned the Zimbabwean government. What can the US do to have any kind of influence?) They're working in the UN and with other African leaders, that's important. They said Mugabe can't be considered a legitimately elected leader and they're encouraging other African governments to say the same. (I'm wondering how likely it is that South African can bring about a resolution?) Mbeki has been working on for several years, to bring Mugabe and Tsvangirai together and get them to reach a resolution. Mbeki has been pressing for a coalition government with Mugabe at the helm, like in Kenya. Many think that can't work in Zimbabwe, Mugabe and Tsvangirai both don't want it. (We do have a quote from Tsvangirai saying he would be willing to talk to Mugabe's party, but saying principals would have to be accepted beforehand. What are those principals?) They are that there would be a climate for negotiations, an end to violence against Tsvangirai and his party, and a resumption of the rule of law. I don't think it would be talks for a coalition government, but talks for a transitional period into free and fair elections. (Is Tsvangirai hopeful something can be worked out?) If other African governments pressure him enough, then Mugabe will think he needs to do something to make himself legitimate in the eyes of his African peers and that would be go back and have free and fair elections, and if those happen it's almost guaranteed Tsvangirai would win.

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