As African and Western countries struggle to find a plan to remove Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe – before he declares himself winner of an uncontested election Friday – the aging strongman is turning on his people with renewed ferocity.
Observers are calling it the last thrash of a regime that has beaten, starved and murdered Zimbabweans for years. And observers say the violence may continue even if he is ousted.
Mugabe, 84 and reportedly in poor health, considers himself "appointed by God," and says he will never give up power. But he is under increasing pressure from his neighbours to step down.
Before a meeting of the United Nations Security Council yesterday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Mugabe to abandon the runoff election, after opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew his name and took shelter in the Netherlands embassy in Harare, saying he wanted to avoid deadly reprisals against his supporters.
"There has been too much violence and too much intimidation," Ban told reporters. "A vote held in these conditions would lack all legitimacy."
A draft statement tabled by Britain asked the council to give "full support" to Tsvangirai, in the absence of a legitimate runoff. In the first round of voting in March, his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won a parliamentary victory, but the electoral commission said he had too few votes to win the presidency outright. More...