[Marxism] Tsvangirai to Take Part In Zimbabwe Election Run-Off
walterlx at earthlink.net
Sat May 10 08:15:44 MDT 2008
Tsvangirai to Take Part In Zimbabwe Election Run-Off
May 10, 2008 8:35 a.m.
PRETORIA, South Africa -- Zimbabwe's top opposition leader said Saturday he
will take part in a presidential run-off against longtime leader Robert
Mugabe and soon will return to the country.
Morgan Tsvangirai said his supporters would feel "betrayed" if he did not
face Mr. Mugabe in the runoff. Mr. Tsvangirai had said previously he won the
first round outright and that official figures showing a second round was
necessary were fraudulent.
"I am ready, the people are ready," he told reporters in the capital of
neighboring South Africa. "I intend to return as shortly as possible and
intend to begin a victory tour," he said, adding that he expected to return
within two days. Aides later said no exact date has been set.
Opposition officials and independent human rights activists have accused Mr.
Mugabe of orchestrating violence against the opposition since the first
round on March 29.
Observers inside and outside Zimbabwe have questioned whether a second round
could be free and fair with the opposition unable to campaign freely because
of attacks and threats. Mr. Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF, meanwhile, already has
launched its runoff campaign.
In Pretoria, South Africa, Mr. Tsvangirai acknowledged the risks, but said
his consultations with a wide range of Zimbabweans had convinced him they
wanted him to run.
"They believe that we as a nation are brave enough, we are strong enough and
we are angry enough to fight an election once again," he said. "A runoff
election could finally knock out the dictator for good."
No runoff date has been set. Mr. Tsvangirai said Saturday it should be held
within 21 days of the May 2 announcement of presidential results, but
Zimbabwean government officials have said the electoral commission has up to
a year to hold the vote.
Mr. Tsvangirai said the runoff should be held free of violence and monitored
by regional peacekeepers, with unfettered access for international observers
and journalists, many of whom were barred during the first round.
He also said a new electoral commission should be established for the vote,
but said he would run even without what he called "the optimum conditions."
He acknowledged some in Zimbabwe may have felt he had abandoned them. There
have been persistent rumors he had gone into exile, though he has maintained
he was traveling only to rally international support for democracy in
Zimbabwe and always planned to return.
Mr. Tsvangirai, a former trade union leader, has survived three
assassination attempts, including a 1997 attempt by unidentified assailants
to throw him from a 10th floor window. Last year, he was hospitalized after
a brutal assault by police at a prayer rally, and images seen around the
world of his bruised and swollen face have come to symbolize the challenge
dissenters face in his homeland.
Mr. Mugabe, 84, has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 and once was
hailed for promoting racial reconciliation and bringing education and health
care to the black majority.
But in recent years he has been accused of holding onto power through
elections that independent observers say were marred by fraud, intimidation
and rigging, and of overseeing his country's economic collapse.
"Mugabe was once my hero, too," Mr. Tsvangirai said Saturday. "It is very,
very sad for me to call Mugabe a former liberator. It is sad for me to say
that he has turned his back on both his people and his continent."
Copyright C 2008 Associated Press
WALTER LIPPMANN, CubaNews
Los Angeles, California
"Cuba - Un Paraiso bajo el bloqueo"
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