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Sunday, June 22, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: Mugabe rival quits election race

Mr Tsvangirai said there was no point running when elections would not be free and fair and “the outcome is determined by… Mugabe himself”.

He called on the global community to step in to prevent “genocide”.

But the ruling Zanu-PF said Mr Tsvangirai had taken the decision to avoid “humiliation” in the poll.


At a press conference in Harare on Sunday, Mr Tsvangirai said: “We in the MDC have resolved that we will no longer participate in this violent, illegitimate sham of an election process.”

“We will not play the game of Mugabe,” he added.

Sadly, it would seem that Mugabe’s game is the one being played, and he won. Clearly, the people of Zimbabwe are the losers and have been for some time.

More on the situation from the LAT: New wave of attacks on Zimbabwe opposition ratchets up the death toll

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Friday, June 20, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Mugabe challenger ‘may quit poll’

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is said to be under pressure to pull out in view of escalating poll-related violence.


The withdrawal threat may be aimed at pressuring other countries to demand a fair vote, a BBC correspondent says.

But if the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) does pull out, it will be handing victory to Robert Mugabe, making it a tricky decision to take, says the BBC’s Caroline Hawley in Johannesburg, South Africa.

I am not sure how a threat to pull out would necessarily create pressure on other countries, as if Tsvangirai quits, the immediate crisis ends and the problem drops off the plates of the regional leaders.

More likely, this is about the violence:

The MDC says at least 70 of its supporters have been killed in recent weeks and 25,000 forced from their homes in a state-sponsored campaign of violence.

MDC rallies have also been disrupted and Mr Tsvangirai has been detained by police on several occasions.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: Zimbabwe poll under fresh attack

Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe, who heads a troika of observer states, told the BBC mounting violence could make a free vote impossible.

Sadly, that is hardly a surprise. Indeed, it has been clear for some time that Mugabe and his allies have been trying to subvert the process to their own ends since the election (indeed, that has been their modus operandi since they took power years ago). What is interesting is that they seem to lack the wherewithal to actually just take over and be done with the increasingly farcical notion that the election matter. On the other hand, it does seem that they lack the actual power to do so, meaning that they think the opposition is too big to simply smash or Mugabe’s resources are more limited than he would like to demonstrate. It seems that he is banking on limping through this process with the clear belief that he can cling to power and use violence to terrorize the opposition, but only in a limited fashion (versus simply staging an obvious coup and arresting, killing of exiling the opposition in toto and being done with it).

Other stories from Zimbabwe:

  • Via the BBC: A glimpse of Mugabe terror
  • Zimbabwe activists’ bodies found
  • Via the Independent/the AP: Mugabe’s opponents die in firebomb attack
  • Via the Independent: Mbeki steps up pressure on Mugabe
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Saturday, May 31, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: Troops ‘must back Mugabe or quit’

Zimbabwe’s army chief has told soldiers they must leave the military if they do not vote for incumbent President Robert Mugabe in next month’s run-off poll.

Chief-of-staff Maj Gen Martin Chedondo said soldiers had signed up to protect Mr Mugabe’s principles of defending the revolution, state media reported.

“If you have other thoughts, then you should remove that uniform,” he said.


“Soldiers are not apolitical; only mercenaries are apolitical,” said the general. “We should therefore stand behind our commander-in-chief.”

Apart from the obvious election-based problem here, this does not bode well (to put it mildly) for the prospect of a peaceful transition, should Mugabe lose the run-off.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: Tsvangirai flies back to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has returned to Harare to begin his presidential election run-off campaign, after spending weeks abroad.

The Movement for Democratic Change leader’s first engagement was to visit supporters hurt in political violence.

Mr Tsvangirai said they had vowed to “finish off” President Robert Mugabe in the 27 June second round vote.

Mr Tsvangirai’s return was delayed amid an alleged army plan to kill him, which the ruling party said was “fantasy”.

Sadly, even if is a “fantasy,” it is a rather believable one. Given that Tsangirai has been in self-imposed exile for about two months in South Africa and elsewhere clearly demonstrate that something is amiss in Zimbabwean politics. Part of the reason for his absence has been to obtain outside support, but much of it seems to be for personal safety reasons as well while the ZEC figured out who won the election, which finally decided the following official tally:

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said Mr Tsvangirai won 47.9% of the vote, with Mr Mugabe taking 43.2%.

The LAT has a stunning piece on the current situation in Zimbabwe, including the violence aimed at the opposition and the threat of a coup should Mugabe fail to win the run-off.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Zimbabwe introduces half-a-billion dollar note - Yahoo! News

“Introducing the new 500,000,000 bearer cheque for your convenience,” read a Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe full-page advert in the state daily, The Herald, displaying specimens of the new note.

Because who wants to take a wheelbarrow full of money downtown to buy bread? Ha! Trick question, there isn’t any bread. Again, in the Dictatorship for Dummies vein: when you have managed to utterly wreck your country’s economy and have created an utterly unnecessary humanitarian disaster because of nothing more than hubris and greed for power, let them know that you are looking out for the people’s convenience when you issue a very public reminder of just how bad the economy is.

Source: the AFP
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Thursday, May 1, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the NYT: U.S. Airstrike Kills Top Qaeda Agent in Somalia

Aden Hashi Ayro, one of Al Qaeda’s top agents in East Africa and the leader of the Islamist comeback in Somalia, was killed Thursday morning by an American airstrike, according to Somali officials.

Mr. Ayro was one of the most feared and notorious figures in Somalia, a short, wispy man believed to be in his 30s who had gone from lowly car washer to top terrorist suspect blamed for a string of atrocities, including ripping up an Italian graveyard, killing a female BBC journalist and planning suicide attacks all across Somalia.

He was a military commander for the Shebab, an Islamist militia which the American government recently classified as a terrorist group.

The key question, of course, was whether there was a phone call made to the White House or not:

Around 3 a.m. Thursday morning, four missiles slammed into a home in the central Somalia town of Dhusamareb, according to residents, Somali officials and a spokesman for the Shebab.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: Zimbabwe opposition retains gains

None of the original results were overturned, making it difficult for the ruling Zanu-PF party to overturn an opposition majority in the lower house.

Ten opposition-held seats remain to be declared and Zanu-PF now needs to win nine to be sure of regaining control.

There is still no word on the results of the presidential election.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: Mugabe’s party wins first recount

Zimbabwe’s ruling party has been confirmed as the winner of the first of 23 constituencies to complete a recount of votes after March’s election.

The electoral commission said Zanu-PF retained its parliamentary seat in Goromonzi West.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has dismissed the recounts as an attempt to rig the election and overturn its parliamentary majority.

Of course, this isn’t that big of a deal, as it doesn’t alter the original count.

The numbers (via the AP):

The first result in a recount of 23 seats in Zimbabwe’s parliamentary elections gave victory to president Robert Mugabe’s ruling party today.

The recount in a Harare suburb was the only one demanded by the opposition MDC party.

The results showed just a one-vote difference from the original count from the poll giving the seat to Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party with 6,194 votes to 5,931 for the MDC.

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Monday, April 21, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the Independent: Zimbabwe opposition pleads for international intervention

Zimbabwe resembles a war zone, with thousands of people displaced, hundreds injured, and 10 killed in postelection violence, an opposition leader said yesterday.


Human Rights Watch has said that “torture and violence are surging in Zimbabwe”. It warned of “torture camps to systematically target, beat and torture people suspected of having voted for the MDC in last month’s elections”.

Meanwhile, a limited recount of contested legislative seats is underway, and still no official word on the presidential results.

See also the LAT: Zimbabwe opposition allege beatings, threats

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