Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Zimbabwe's new frontier

Government sources in Zimbabwe say a preliminary recount indicates that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai got more votes than longtime President Robert Mugabe in last month's presidential race, but not enough to avoid a runoff. The sources, who declined to be named, say Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, got 47 percent of the vote to Mugabe's 43 percent, according to the Reuters international news service. But Tsvangirai, who accused Mugabe of delaying release of the vote count to try to rig the outcome, contends he actually won a majority of the votes cast. Mugabe has led Zimbabwe for the past 28 years, but has come under fire in recent years as the country's once-powerful economy collapsed. Zimbabwe suffers from food and fuel shortages, and a nearly worthless currency. Fears of violence now grip the country, stoked by memories of past elections and by attacks that began shortly after the Dec. 29 balloting. The MDC said 20 members were killed by pro-government militias after the vote, including five in the past two days. The government has denied instigating the violence. Tsvangirai was not in the country when violence broke out and has refused to return, fearing arrest. Instead, he was been visiting Zimbabwe's neighboring countries, seeking support. The UN Security Council met yesterday to discuss the Zimbabwe election crisis, Reuters reported. European and Latin American countries and the United States want to send an envoy to Zimbabwe to investigate the balloting and post-election violence, but South Africa, which is chairing the Security Council, says it is not a council matter. Mugabe's government denounced the Security Council session as "sinister, racist and "colonial."

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