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The withdrawal of Morgan Tsvangirai from Zimbabwe’s presidential elections has raised serious concerns regarding the nation’s future. Mr. Tsvangirai said his decision came as a result of the violence committed against his party’s members by the ruling ZANU-PF government, which has led to the deaths of 86 people and displaced more than 200,000.
Fearing for his life, Mr. Tsvangirai has taken refuge in the Dutch embassy in Harare.
The opposition party hopes that Zimbabwe’s neighbors and the international community will put pressure on President Robert Mugabe to stop the violence, and allow free and fair elections. However, Mr. Mugabe has openly stated that this is a near impossibility as he will not hand his country to a leader he asserts is a “puppet” of the West.
“I am happy about the MDC decision—too much blood has been shed and we cannot afford to lose any more people over this ruthless and undemocratic government,” a Zimbabwean citizen commented to the BBC News. “At least the world has seen Mugabe for what he is—undemocratic, senile and evil. Now is the time for the AU, SADC and international community to push Thabo Mbeki to act against this Mugabe regime.”
While the United States and United Kingdom prepared to bring the situation before the UN Security Council, South Africa’s President Mbeki said the country should address problems from within. “From our point of view it is still necessary that the political leadership of Zimbabwe should get together and find a solution to the challenges that face Zimbabwe” (The Guardian).
Mr. Mbeki has come under scrutiny about his failure to take action against Mr. Mugabe’s regime. The Mail and Guardian reported that the South African president “waved through” an arms shipment from China destined for Zimbabwe, which ran contrary to what the media reported elsewhere. The paper also stated that these weapons are now being used against the Zimbabwean citizens in what is labeled by those outside the country as a coup d’état.
Mr. Paddy Ashdown, a member of the British parliament’s upper chamber, said, “The situation in Zimbabwe could deteriorate to a point where genocide could be a possible outcome—something that looks like Rwanda” (AFP).
Mr. Ashdown added that “if the situation deteriorated to that point, military intervention, with Britain playing a ‘delicate role’ due to its history as Zimbabwe’s former colonial ruler, would have to be an option.”
Meanwhile, as events unfold in Zimbabwe, hospitals continue to be overcrowded with patients. Many are suffering from severe injuries because of beatings received by the militia, who support the Mugabe regime. Others are sick and starving due to lack of food aid, which is being given only to those who support the present government. Across the country, health officials report that the stress of constant militia attacks and the uncertainty of what the future holds have also led to worsening health conditions.