THE UN warned yesterday post-election violence in Zimbabwe was rising to near crisis levels ahead of a planned presidential run-off, with opposition supporters bearing the brunt of attacks.
As opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai prepared to return home to contest the election against President Robert Mugabe, his hopes the ballot would be held later this month in a peaceful atmosphere appeared to be wishful thinking. With Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change claiming 32 of its supporters have been killed since voting on March 29, the UN resident representative in Zimbabwe said most of the violence was directed against followers of the opposition, although the MDC was not blameless.
“There is an emerging pattern of political violence inflicted mainly but not exclusively on rural supporters of the MDC,” Agustino Zacarias told reporters, adding there were “indications that the level of violence is escalating ... and could reach crisis levels”.
Announcing plans to return home this week, Tsvangirai said at a news conference he would only participate in the run-off if there was an end to unrest. He also called for a revamp of the electoral commission and the deployment of international peacekeepers and foreign observers, but these demands have been brushed aside by the government.
“The United Nations country team urges all political leaders across the political divide to unequivocally renounce politically motivated violence,” said Zacarias, a Mozambican diplomat.
The post-election tension has been mounting by the day, with an opposition lawmaker and the country’s two most senior trade unionists among those who are in custody.
The MDC said Tsvangirai will address an opposition rally on Sunday to kickstart his campaign to unseat Mugabe.
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