Tsvangirai says Zimbabwe under 'military junta'
There had been a "de facto coup d'etat" following the first round of the election in March, Morgan Tsvangirai told reporters, with a campaign of violence unleashed throughout the country.
"This country is effectively now run by a military junta," the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader said. "As a people we have been exposed to state-sponsored brutality."
With the UN Security Council prepared for a special debate on Zimbabwe later this week, Tsvangirai insisted he will compete against the president in the run-off despite calls to cancel it in favour of talks amid mounting violence.
Sixty-six MDC supporters had been killed since the first round of the election on March 29, according to Tsvangirai.
"The illegitimacy of this regime will be confirmed if Mugabe declares himself the winner," he said of the June 27 run-off.
He said Mugabe as commander in chief bore ultimate responsibility for the violence, which he claimed had also left 200 unaccounted for and a further 3,000 hospitalised.
"The current reality is that he has allowed that situation to develop," the opposition leader said.
Asked who else was orchestrating the violence, Tsvangirai said: "We know the people who are calling the shots.
"We know the man who has given tacit approval - he is the commander in chief."
In addition to the violence, Tsvangirai has faced other major obstacles in trying to campaign, with police detaining him twice last week and barring MDC rallies.
"Despite the conditions on the ground, the MDC is focused on the run-off and has developed counter-strategies of campaigning," he said. "I have been encouraged by people's desire to finish what we have started."
Tsvangirai's comments came with South Africa at the centre of a new bid to mediate between Mugabe's Zanu PF party and the MDC.
Some have suggested shelving the run-off to allow for negotiations, and proposals have included making Mugabe president and Tsvangirai prime minister in a transitional government.
Tsvangirai, however, refused to address such possibilities.
"The question of a national unity government does not arise," he said.
South Africa's Business Day newspaper reported that representatives of Mugabe and Tsvangirai had recently gathered in Pretoria as part of a last ditch effort to draw the country back from the abyss.
According to the newspaper, South African Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi chaired a meeting between representatives of the MDC and Mugabe's Zanu PF party at the end of May and another was planned this week.
The idea of a unity government received strong backing on Tuesday from Zimbabwe's ex-finance minister Simba Makoni, who finished third in the election's first round.
Makoni said the run-off should be cancelled and talks should be held to form a transitional government that would be in place for five years to give it time to carry out reforms.
He said political violence had made it impossible to hold a fair run-off and pointed out that Zimbabwe, which is facing major food shortages and the world's highest inflation rate, could not afford to organise another vote.
"In the current situation, there is no hope that a free and fair election can be undertaken," Makoni, who split from Zanu PF to run as an independent, told reporters in Johannesburg.
South African President Thabo Mbeki was last year handed the task by his peers in the region of mediating between the MDC and Zanu PF. His efforts have so far made little headway and Tsvangirai has called for him to be stripped of his role.
With the violence increasing, Mugabe has accused the MDC of "terrorising" Zanu PF followers, although the UN says the vast majority of victims have been opposition supporters.
The government announced on Monday that suspected perpetrators or instigators of violence would be refused bail, a move the MDC claimed would enable Mugabe to tighten the screw on his opponents.
The vast majority
of those arrested over the violence have been MDC supporters, including
four MPs. - AFP
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