Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe says he has not ruled out
negotiations with the opposition MDC but elections must go ahead on
Friday to meet a legal obligation. Meanwhile, reports are coming in
from several parts of Zimbabwe that violence is continuing against
opposition supporters. Peta Thornycroft reports for VOA from Harare.
Mugabe, 84, made it clear at a rally Tuesday that he won't refuse to
negotiate with the opposition party, The Movement for Democratic
Change, but he determined to hold the poll on Friday because, in his
words, there is "only one thing for us to accomplish... it's the legal
process on the 27th of June."
The MDC on Tuesday handed a
letter to the electoral commission formally withdrawing from the
presidential runoff. Tsvangirai said the election was rigged and his
supporters face too much violence for him to keep running. He won the
first round of voting on March 29, but lacked an outright majority
against Mr. Mugabe.
Observers are worried that the violence will
continue to spiral out of control. One ominous sign is the withdrawal
of independent monitors who would be able to observe and protect voters
at the polls.
As of Tuesday, 38 organizations say they have
withdrawn after the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, or ZESN, said
only 500 observers were able to get accreditation. There were more than
9,000 observers allowed to monitor the election on March 29.
said it received a letter from Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa on
Friday saying that it would only be allowed 500 observers. As of
Tuesday, the invitation for these 500 had not yet been received and
ZESN said it could not fulfill its mandate to effectively observe the
Because the ZANU-PF said it is determined to hold a
one-candidate election on Friday, many fear that ZANU-PF supporters
will force people to vote by gunpoint.
Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe said ample
evidence shows Mugabe's government is waging a "widespread campaign of
retaliation and threat" and spreading "fear, hostility and attacks"
against its opponents.
Mugabe's government is no longer capable
of holding a legitimate election, Pascoe told the council, and Mugabe's
plan to push ahead with the runoff "would only increase divisions and
produce discredited results."
Already, tens of thousands of
Zimbabweans have been uprooted from their homes and 85 people have died
in election violence, human rights groups say. Tsvangirai has
repeatedly been detained by police and contended with warnings of a
state-sponsored assassination plot. His top deputy was arrested on
treason charges that carry the death penalty.