Zimbabwe’s opposition is under intense political and violent pressure to agree to call off a second round of presidential elections in a fortnight and join a coalition government that keeps President Robert Mugabe in power.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the Movement for Democratic Change leader who won the first round of elections in March but failed to win an outright majority, has rejected any deal that leaves Mugabe in office and said there can be no agreement on power-sharing before the run-off vote.
But there is concern among some opposition politicians that if the MDC insists on taking power the government will use the escalating state-sponsored violence as a pretext to call off the polls at the last minute and impose emergency rule.
South African President, Thabo Mbeki, the former Zambian leader Kenneth Kaunda and Mugabe’s former finance minister, Simba Makoni, are pressing Tsvangirai to accept a deal modeled on the recent post- election “African solution” in Kenya that would see Mugabe remain as president and Tsvangirai become prime minister. But the MDC regards Kenya as a bad example because the opposition victory was overturned through violence.
Makoni said he has been acting as an informal mediator between the MDC and Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party, along with Mbeki, to press the opposition to agree to a transitional government because of rising violence.
Kaunda has added to the pressure on Tsvangirai with a public call for him to accept the post of prime minister under a Mugabe presidency.
“The authority between president and prime minister must be fairly shared,” Kaunda said.
But the MDC said that as it is Mugabe who has created the violence and political instability it would be perverse to reward him by allowing him to remain president when Tsvangirai should serve as the country’s leader during any transitional government because he won the first round of voting.
Tsvangirai said that while the MDC is prepared to accept Zanu-PF into a power-sharing government, Mugabe has to go and his party must be in a minority.
“The Kenyan model of a government of national unity is not an option because ... our circumstances are different. The people’s choice must be respected,” he said.
But there is fear among some of Mugabe’s opponents that he will use the violence as a pretext to claim there is too much instability to hold a vote.
The state-run press has laid the groundwork with an attempt to blame the victims by portraying the MDC as responsible for the campaign of beatings and killings that the opposition says has left at least 60 dead and about 200 missing. More than 3,000 people have been treated after severe beatings and tens of thousands have been forced from their homes across Zimbabwe.
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