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Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai Asks AU, SADC to Intervene

  • VOA News


Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has asked regional leaders to form a transitional team to lead the nation out of political crisis.

Speaking on Wednesday in Harare, Tsvangirai called on the African Union and the Southern African Development Community, or SADC, backed by the United Nations, to oversee a transition.

And in an interview with VOA, Tsvangirai said he wants U.N. peacekeepers to come to his country's aid.

SADC leaders, who held an emergency meeting today on Zimbabwe, issued a statement saying a run-off presidential election planned for Friday should be postponed.

Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, has so far not given in to international pressure to postpone the vote, from which Tsvangirai has withdrawn. Electoral officials today said that the MDC leader's withdrawal came too late, and so the election will go ahead.

The Mugabe government contends that Tsvangirai did not win the first round of presidential elections outright. The electoral commission's ruling today all but guarantees that Mr. Mugabe would be re-elected president if the vote goes ahead.

Tsvangirai, who briefly left his refuge at the Dutch embassy to speak to reporters, outlined a transition plan that includes the release of what he said are two-thousand political prisoners (, among them the Secretary-General of the Movement for Democratic Change, Tendai Biti) and the swearing-in of lawmakers elected in the March 29th vote, in which his party took control of parliament.

The MDC leader also asked for an end to violence, including the disbanding of war veteran militias and unofficial roadblocks, and the resumption of humanitarian assistance.

His party says dozens of its supporters have been killed in a crackdown by government forces, while hundreds of others have been arrested.

An MDC spokesman said the violence continued today, with police raiding and cordoning off the group's provincial headquarters in the eastern city of Mutare.

And in Harare, about 300 people have taken refuge at the South African embassy. The Reuters news agency says embassy diplomats are trying to find a resolution to the matter.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga joined the international criticism today, warning that if the world does not act now, Zimbabwe could face the kind of disaster seen in Rwanda in 1994.

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