Saturday, May 10, 2008

Acts of patriotism

Zimbabwe political leader Morgan Tsvangirai announced Saturday he will defy death threats and return home to face incumbent Robert Mugabe in a runoff election following their one-two finish in March 29 ballotting, the Associated Press reported. Tsvangirai has stayed out of Zimbabwe for safety reasons after the March 29 vote, which he claims was rigged by supporters of Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980. Dozens of Tsvngirai supporters have been killed and their homes destroyed in post-election violence, which many observers fear is directed by Mugabe supporters, if not by the president himself. Speaking Saturday in South Africa, Tsvangirai told reporters that his supporters would feel "betrayed" if he did not run against Mugabe in the runoff. "A runoff election could finally knock out the dictator for good," Tsvangirai said, according to the AP. "I am ready and the people are ready for the final round." No date has been said for the balloting. Tsvangirai and other opposition leaders who decide to return to Zimbabwe are taking a great risk. As we saw in Pakistan with Benazir Bhutto, challenging a dictator can be a dangerous path. But as we are also seeing in Pakistan, it can work for the betterment of the country and its people. The United States has called for the use of U.N. human rights monitors to oversee the runoff vote.

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