Sang Tan/AP
Zimbabwean opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai

Morgan Tsvangirai Ends Bid for Zimbabwe Presidency

June 23, 2008 02:58 PM
by Anne Szustek
Tsvangirai, the leader of main opposition party MDC, had won the initial election but withdrew days before a scheduled run-off, citing fears of continued violence and corruption.

30-Second Summary

Dutch diplomatic officials confirmed Monday that the Movement for Diplomatic Change leader has found a safe haven at its country’s embassy in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare. Some 30 armed riot police invaded MDC’s headquarters, arresting anyone who did not flee the building.

Tsvangirai’s party decided Sunday it was withdrawing from this Friday’s run-off election, refusing to participate in what it called a “violent, illegitimate sham of an election.”

Incumbent Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his party, the Zanu-PF, is campaigning through the election. One ad hitting the local airwaves features Tsvangirai along with U.S. President George W. Bush and British leaders Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, emblazoned with a slogan lumping them together as “the Losers’ Club—We can defeat them one and all.”

Robert Mugabe has gone to great lengths to retain Zimbabwe’s top office, which he has held since 1980. The state-run election commission confirmed that the MDC won a majority of parliament, however showed Mugabe polling at 52 percent in the presidential vote, a figure that independent polls contest but the government said was grounds for a run-off.

Troops under his command have killed more than 100 MDC supporters and ransacked a hotel on April 3 that was housing foreign journalists, detaining Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Barry Bearak. Mugabe announced last week that he would not cede power to Western-backed opponents even if he lost the run-off.

The tone of a post on Zimbabwe blog Sokwanele was somber, yet found solace in the fact that the one national election in the country that had a shred of international credibility was “the one where Robert Mugabe lost both the parliamentary and the presidential poll.”

See CBC coverage

Headline Link: ‘Tsvangirai Seeks Refuge in Dutch Embassy in Harare’

Video: ‘Robert Mugabe Vows to Plough on with Election’

Background: The 2008 Zimbabwe election

Historical Context: Robert Mugabe’s rule

Key Players: Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai

Robert Mugabe (1924–)
Morgan Tsvangirai (1952–)

Opinion & Analysis: Seeking joy in the irony

Reference: Zimbabwe


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