Zimbabwe election to go ahead despite Tsvangirai withdrawal


Harare/Johannesburg : Zimbabwe’s violence-wracked run-off presidential election will go ahead Friday despite the withdrawal of the leading candidate, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai, state radio said Monday.

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It quoted George Chiweshe, chairman of the state-run Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, as saying that the organization was “going ahead with preparations for the election … as Tsvangirai has not made any of the required notification” of his withdrawal.

“We have just heard about the withdrawal from the press,” Chiweshe was quoted further by the state-controlled Herald newspaper as saying. “We expect (the MDC) to write to the commission as the authority responsible for elections in the country. Maybe that letter will come and we will cross the bridge when we get there.”

State radio also quoted Patrick Chinamasa, spokesman for President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU(PF) party as saying that “ZANU(PF) will continue with its campaign to the last moment until it romps home to victory.”

On Sunday Tsvangirai announced he was pulling out of “this violent, illegitimate sham of an election” because of the campaign of violent intimidation of the opposition MDC, the “decimation” of its structures, the “elaborate plan of rigging” by Mugabe’s administration and Mugabe’s repeatedly stated avowal that he would disregard an electoral victory for the MDC leader and would “go to war” if Mugabe lost.

“The conditions as of today do not allow the holding of a credible election,” he said. “We cannot ask (MDC supporters) to vote for us on June 27 when it may cost them their lives.”

The spokesman for ZANU(PF) was quoted by the Sapa news agency as accusing Tsvangirai of using political violence as an excuse to withdraw.

“Tsvangirai went into the election thinking that it was a sprint and was not prepared for a marathon and wants to avoid defeat. He spent his time globe-trotting in Europe and left MDC supporters without leadership,” Chinamasa was quoted as saying.

Chinamasa further placed most of the violence at the door of the opposition.

Independently compiled medical records show that 85 people have been murdered and at least 3,000 have had to be treated in hospital for injuries caused by assaults since the violence began two days after the first round of voting on March 29, while Tsvangirai says 200,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.