Tsvangirai poll withdrawal 'understandable'

The withdrawal of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai from the presidential run-off election in Zimbabwe is “understandable” as the poll was unlikely to be free and fair, European Union chiefs said today.

Javier Solana and EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel said the “unacceptable level of violence” and intimidation in Zimbabwe in recent weeks must be addressed at a summit of African leaders in Egypt later this week.

A statement issued by Mr Solana’s office today said the elections had become a “travesty of democracy”.

Mr Tsvangirai pulled out of the run-off yesterday, declaring that the election was no longer credible and the loss of life among his supporters was too high.

The move is likely to see President Robert Mugabe continue his 28-year rule.

Germany's development minister accused Africa of reacting ``too late and too indecisively'' to events in Zimbabwe.

In a statement today, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul said the Southern African Development Community and the African Union “have dealt too late and too indecisively with the escalating situation”.

She called for African nations to back UN Security Council consideration of the crisis.

It was time for the world to “answer Zimbabwe’s cry for help”, she added.

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