Tsvangirai threatens to boycott elections

2010-09-21 07:32

Harare, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said he would not participate in an election threatened by violence, following a surge of attacks on his supporters by youths loyal to President Robert Mugabe at the weekend.

“I will not commit to any election if it is a declaration of war,” he said at a conference yesterday dedicated to victims of political violence. “I will not support a process that is flawed,” he continued.

In the capital at the weekend gangs of youths from Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party disrupted meetings at which ordinary Zimbabweans had been asked to air their views on what they wanted in a new constitution.

At one meeting point, about 200 youths reportedly surrounded a smaller crowd of supporters of Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and attacked them with iron bars, bricks, and barbed wire. Seven people had to be taken to hospital.

Witnesses said riot police parked in a truck nearby did nothing.

Tsvangirai, who is now in a power-sharing government with Zanu-PF, said the violence was a reminder of the dark past, a reference to a second-round presidential ballot in 2008 in which 200 MDC supporters were murdered and thousands tortured.

Tsvangirai, who had won the first round, withdrew from the election to avoid further bloodshed.

The three-month campaign to canvass opinions for a new constitution is part of the coalition agreement between Mugabe and Tsvangirai. The draft of a new democratic constitution is intended to lead to a referendum and then to new elections.

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