Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangira on Thursday gave a
24-hour deadline to Robert Mugabe to negotiate or face being shunned
as an illegitimate leader responsible for the killing of civilians.
Mugabe, 84, who trailed Tsvangirai for the presidency in a first round election in March, has dismissed international condemnation of violence against the opposition and has vowed to extend his 28 years in power.
Tsvangirai, withdrew from Friday’s run-off and has taken refuge in the Dutch embassy in Harare since Sunday said the time for talking to
Mugabe would end if he went ahead with the election.
“Negotiations will be over if Mugabe declares himself the winner and considers himself the president. How can we negotiate?”
“I made these offers, I made these overtures, I told you I would negotiate before the elections and not after – because it’s not about
elections, it’s about transition.
“You disregarded that, you undertook violence against my supporters,
you killed and maimed, you are still killing and maiming unarmed
civilians, the army is still out there.
“How can you call yourself an elected president? You are illegitimate
and I will not speak to an illegitimate president.”
Tsvangirai said it was too early to say when he would leave the Dutch embassy. He said he is the prime target for assassination and would therefore not take any chances with his safety.
“It’s not just about Mugabe, it’s about the people out there who
could take the law into their own hands. There is no rule of law
here,” said Tsvangirai.
Nearly 90 of his MDC supporters have been killed by militias loyal to Mugabe.
On Wednesday, the SADC’s security troika urged the postponement of
Friday’s election, saying the re-election of Mugabe could lack legitimacy in the current violent climate.
The troika, comprising African Union chairperson, Tanzania, Swaziland
and Angola, called at its meeting near the Swazi capital Mbabane for
talks between Mugabe’s government and the opposition before a new
run-off date was set.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission has ruled that last
Sunday’s withdrawal from the election by Tsvangirai had no legal
force and that the poll would go ahead.
Mugabe has presided over a slide into economic chaos, including 80%
unemployment and inflation estimated by experts at about two million
percent. He blames sanctions by former colonial power Britain and
other Western countries.
Millions of Zimbabweans have fled to neighbouring countries to escape
the economic woes of their once prosperous homeland.