Sunday, December 21, 2008
U.S. withdraws support for Zimbabwe power-sharing deal
Better late than never. The United States has pulled its support for a proposed power-sharing deal in Zimbabwe, making the departure of embattled Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe a foregone conclusion. The Bush administration's top envoy in Africa, Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer, announced the policy shift Sunday after advising other southern Africa governments of the change. The change should spell the end of the 28-year Mugabe regime, which led the country from independence to regional power and, now, to disappointment and embarrassment. Frazer said Mugabe, who has struggled to hang onto power since losing the first round of last year's presidential election and claiming victory in a tainted runoff, was "out of his mind," according to the Associated Press in an article published in the New York Times. The last straw, apparently, was a recent outbreak of cholera due to the country's deteriorating infrastructure that Mugabe blamed on biological warfare from the West. But Mugabe has been a burden on his country for years, and it's encouraging, if tragically late, to see U.S. leaders to advocate change. Western nations are now expected to throw their support behind Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who was supposed to become prime minister under the power-sharing deal negotiated after the tainted election. Tsvangirai, who won the first round of voting in March but did not get 50% of the vote in the official count, was forced to withdraw from the runoff due to escalating violence by Mugabe supporters. But Mugabe has failed to live up to the terms of the deal so far, even though it would keep him in power -- essentially, a gift from former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who negotiated the agreement. But now, the U.S. decision to pull the plug could splinter support for Mugabe from neighboring countries. Frazer said the United States was finally convinced that Mugabe was not willing to share power. She called Mugabe "a man who's lost it, who's losing his mind, who's out of touch with reality." But South Africa is sticking with Mugabe, at least for now. Thabo Masebe, a spokesman for current South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, said Sunday that "our position has not changed," the AP said. Tsvangirai spokesman Tendai Biti said the MDC would pull out of the power-sharing agreement on Jan. 1 if it hasn't been fully implemented, the AP said.