- Title: SOUTH AFRICA: Zimbabwean Tsvangirai sees new hope on Zimbabwe crisis.
- Date: 2nd April 2007
- Summary: (W3) GENEVA, SWITZERLAND (FILE - DECEMBER 11, 2003) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF ZIMBABWE'S PRESIDENT ROBERT MUGABE DURING SHORT STAY IN GENEVA, WHERE HE ATTENDED A THREE-DAY WORLD SUMMIT OF THE INFORMATION SOCIETY (WSIS), LEAVING HIS HOTEL
- Embargoed: 17th April 2007 13:00
- Location: South Africa
- Country: South Africa
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement,Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA4O80F32WFJI648V3217QP0ABI
- Story Text: Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said a new African push could help solve his country's political crisis and he would participate in elections in 2008 if they were guaranteed to be free and fair. Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on Monday (April 2) a new African push could help solve his country's political crisis and he would participate in elections in 2008 if they were guaranteed to be free and fair.
"It is surprising that Robert Mugabe would easily or willingly leave power, but circumstances dictate behaviour," Tsvangirai told journalists at a news conference.
"All we are asking is that the election in Zimbabwe must be conducted under the SADC norms and standards which are universally accepted standards for a free and fair elections. I am not going to humourate anything, but let me say this. How do you go into an election when the opposition is being battered?" he said in Johannesburg, where he was seeking medical attention for a suspected skull fracture.
Tsvangirai, who became a symbol of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's harsh rule after he was badly beaten in police custody last month, said African leaders had made progress on Zimbabwe at a regional summit in Tanzania last week.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit last week appointed South African President Thabo Mbeki to steer a new initiative aimed at starting talks between Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
While Mbeki has had little luck in earlier mediation attempts in Zimbabwe, political analysts say the country's deep economic crisis combined with international pressure may push the two sides to the bargaining table.
"The fact that this issue has been internationalised, in itself reflects that the international community must have a responsibility towards the Zimbabwean situation so that it doesn't move from a crisis to a conflict and I think a conflict must be prevented," he said.
Mugabe, Zimbabwe's only ruler since independence from Britain in 1980, has been accused by the West of authoritarian rule and economic mismanagement, which has left the country struggling with the world's highest inflation rate, soaring unemployment and regular food and fuel shortages.
Mugabe says he is being punished for seizing white-owned farms to give to landless blacks, and accuses Western countries led by Britain of seeking to use the MDC to effect "regime change" in Harare.
Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party on Friday (March 30) brushed aside the Western criticism and endorsed the 83-year-old leader as its candidate for elections now expected in 2008 -- a move which could see him remain in office through 2013.
Tsvangirai, who leads the major faction of the MDC, said Mugabe's candidacy was not in itself an obstacle to democracy.
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