Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tsvangirai Leaves Dutch Embassy

Zimbabwe's opposition leader left the Dutch Embassy for the first time since fleeing there over the weekend and called on African leaders Wednesday to assist in negotiating a solution to his country's political crisis.

Morgan Tsvangirai repeated his rejection of a presidential runoff set for Friday.
"What is important is that both parties must realize the country is burning and the only way is to sit down and find a way out of it," Tsvangirai said.

Tsvangirai looked relaxed as he addressed reporters at his home after leaving the embassy.
Tsvangirai pulled out of the runoff against President Robert Mugabe, saying attacks on his supporters by police, soldiers and militant Mugabe party members made a free and fair vote impossible.

Tsvangirai sought refuge at the embassy following after getting a tip soldiers were headed to his home.

During the news conference he said pre-election violence in Zimbabwe amounted to war, and called on African leaders to assist in negotiating a solution.

"We need a force to protect the people," Morgan Tsvangirai wrote in an opinion piece published Wednesday in London's The Guardian newspaper.

Tsvangirai sought refuge at the Dutch Embassy in Harare following the announcement of his withdrawal on Sunday.

"We do not want armed conflict, but the people of Zimbabwe need the words of indignation from global leaders to be backed by the moral rectitude of military force," he said. "Such a force would be in the role of peacekeepers, not troublemakers. They would separate the people from their oppressors and cast the protective shield around the democratic process for which Zimbabwe yearns."

Mugabe, by all indications intent on extending his nearly three-decade rule, insists Friday's vote will go ahead and he has grown only more defiant in the face of growing international pressure.

Read it all here. For background on this story, go here.

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