Violence and intimidation blight Zimbabweans’ lives in run-up to presidential vote.
“He [Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC] now says he wants to negotiate. We say we won’t refuse to negotiate but for now there is only one thing for us to accomplish … it’s the legal process on the June 27.”
On Monday, the UN security council said in a statement that the “campaign of violence” in Zimbabwe has made a free and fair run-off election “impossible”.
“The security council considers that the campaign of violence and the restrictions on the political opposition have made it impossible for a free and fair election to take place on June 27,” the council said.
|Tsvangirai said he sought refuge because he feared for his life [AFP]
The UN’s remarks came after Tsvangirai sought refuge in the Dutch embassy in Harare, saying he fears for his life.
“I am evaluating my situation and as soon as I am satisfied that it is safe to do so, then I will leave,” Tsvangirai said in a telephone interview from the embassy on Tuesday.
“I am not being chased away and my hosts have said I can stay for as long as I don’t feel it is safe to leave … probably within the next two days.”
Al Jazeera’s John Terret, reporting from the UN, said the non-binding security council statement is a “considerably watered-down” version of an earlier draft which specifically blamed Mugabe for the violent crackdown on the MDC.
The final version was backed by South Africa, China and Russia, which have long-opposed any discussion of the Zimbabwe crisis.
The original version also said Tsvangirai, whom the US and European countries said should be recognised as the country’s rightful leader, would be the legitimate leader if a credible run-off vote cannot be held on Friday.
The final version said the council “notes that the results of the 29 March 2008 elections must be respected”.
Mugabe supporters have denied allegations of a campaign of intimidation and the government says it will go ahead with Friday’s run-off vote despite the UN’s condemnation and the fact Tsvangirai has pulled out of the race.
Boniface Chidyausiku, Zimbabwe’s ambassador to the UN, said: “As far we are concerned, the election will take place on Friday.
|Zimbabwe denies government forces are involved in any form of violence [AP]|
“The state organs – the army, the police – are not involved in any form of violence in Zimbabwe.
“People are not afraid. For example, when people are going to the ballot box, it will be the person alone and they could vote the way they want, and there’s nobody who will force them to vote the way Zanu-PF wants them to vote.”
Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, has said the results of Friday’s vote would not be credible and the vote would “deepen the divisions” within the country.
He described Zimbabwe as “the single greatest challenge to regional stability in southern Africa today”.
Chidyausiku dismissed Ban’s comments, saying “if he has got that issue, he has no role to play in Zimbabwe”.
Tsvangirai sought refuge at the Dutch embassy following a police raid on the MDC headquarters on Monday in which more than 60 people were detained.
The opposition leader won the first round of the presidential election on March 29 but failed to gain the outright majority needed to avoid a presidential run-off.
The MDC has said at least 80 of its supporters have been killed by Zanu-PF loyalists with another 200,000 displaced in what it calls Mugabe’s “campaign of intimidation” to deter people from voting.
Tendai Biti, the secretary-general of the MDC party, is in prison facing charges of treason which the MDC has said are politically motivated.
Zimbabwe police officials have denied seeking to detain Tsvangirai and said neither the opposition party nor its leaders have reported any threats.
Bright Matonga, Zimbabwe’s deputy information minister, told Al Jazeera: “We’ve made it very clear that we have taken a tough stance on the causes of violence.”