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Mugabe Expected to Meet UN Envoy

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is reportedly going to meet a United Nations envoy today ahead of the presidential election run-off later this month. The focus of the meeting is expected to be on finding ways to end escalating violence and ensure a fair vote on June 27. The meeting comes after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon recently met with Mugabe on ending the election-related violence. Glen Mpani is the regional coordinator for the transitional justice program of the Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation in Cape Town, South Africa. He tells VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey that the consultations are in response to urgent calls by Zimbabweans for international intervention in the run-off.

"The calls for international intervention have been loud and clear, and these calls have been getting louder and louder as we draw closer to the elections. Unfortunately, the international community has tried as much as possible to discuss the Zimbabwean problem at the Security Council with very limited success because of the support that Mugabe has been gaining from the South African government. And there have also been calls that there should be international observers or peace observers within Zimbabwe to normalize the situation, but very little has been done to address that problem," Mpani pointed out.

He said it would be difficult for the ongoing violence to end abruptly ahead of the presidential election run-off.

"I don't think now at this juncture anything is gong to happen. I think the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region as much as they've tried to come up with intervention to solve the problem have been left with no options other than watching the drama unfold in the country," he said.

Mpani said the meeting between the UN envoy and President Mugabe would have little effect in ending ongoing violence in the country.

"When we look at the issue of violence in Zimbabwe, I think the damage has already been done, I think people have already been battered and people have been intimidated. Fear has been instilled within Zimbabweans and the coming in of the envoy at such an eleventh hour would only seek to create some legitimacy for Mugabe to be able to claim that he was very open and that he accepted international intervention within the country," Mpani noted.

He said the ruling ZANU-PF party would use the presence of the UN envoy as a party line ahead of the run-off.

"One of the things that he (Mugabe) is going to do is that, they (ZANU-PF party) are going to try as much as possible to create a package of propaganda, labeling the MDC as being the sole organization responsible for the violence within the country, while it is state engineered and they are being marshaled by the ruling ZANU-PF," he said.

Mpani said Zimbabweans would not be surprised if the leader of the main opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, is arrested for allegedly orchestrating the violence.

"Knowing fully well that he (Mugabe) has been managing the violence in Zimbabwe, he is now trying to face-save by claiming that the MDC is responsible… he can arrest Morgan Tsvangirai and the people of Zimbabwe would not be surprised because what he simply wants to do is ensure that he disables the MDC ahead of the elections. So, we expect that he might arrest him (Tsvangirai), but that would not change the situation on the ground when everyone knows that they (ruling party) are the ones who are engineering the violence," Mpani pointed out.

The MDC accuses Mr. Mugabe's administration of using violence to intimidate party partisans to ensure a ruling party victory in the run-off. The opposition is also calling for immediate international intervention to end the violence and ensure a free and fair vote. But President Mugabe Monday threatened to arrest MDC leader Tsvangirai for provoking violence ahead of the June 27 run-off.