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Mugabe Says Run-Off Will Take Place Despite Opposition Withdrawal

  • VOA News

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe says Friday's presidential run-off election will go ahead as planned, despite the withdrawal of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Addressing a rally in Harare Tuesday Mr. Mugabe said he would not refuse to negotiate with the opposition but that the government must go ahead with what he called the "legal process" of the run-off.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change says it hand-delivered its notice of withdrawal from the vote to electoral officials on Tuesday.

Opposition leader Tsvangirai announced his pullout from the poll on Sunday, saying violence against his supporters made the election impossible.

Tsvangirai took refuge in the Dutch embassy on Sunday and remains there today.

In a phone interview on Tuesday, he told VOA (Studio 7 Zimbabwe) that he still does not feel secure, despite assurances of his safety from Zimbabwe's police commissioner.

He said he is prepared to enter discussions with Mr. Mugabe about Zimbabe's future, on the condition that the violence stops.

The MDC says Mugabe supporters have killed more than 80 opposition activists and injured hundreds more since the first round of voting in March. Zimbabwean officials have dismissed those allegations and blame the MDC for the violence.

Today, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) called on workers around the world to help isolate Mr. Mugabe and his government.

In a statement, COSATU expressed sympathy for Tsvangirai's decision to back out of the run-off. It said Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party has made "a declaration of war" against the Zimbabwean people.

On Monday, the U.N. Security Council condemned the violence and intimidation against the opposition in Zimbabwe, saying it is not possible to hold a free and fair presidential run-off.

Mr. Tsvangirai defeated President Mugabe in elections on March 29th. But the official tally, released more than a month later, showed him falling short of the majority needed to avoid a second-round vote.

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