This is anything but window dressing, he is on his way out this time
World Leaders Say They Will Reject Outcome of Zimbabwe Election, But Mugabe Stays Defiant
Tsvangirai says problems must be solved by negotiation as African nations call for postponement of run-off
International rejection of tomorrow's presidential run-off in Zimbabwe is mounting even before it is held, with the US, France and other nations saying they will not recognize the result.
Southern African countries called for a postponement of the poll, saying the outcome will not be credible because of political violence, at the end an emergency summit in Swaziland.
But divisions in the region were laid bare when South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki declined to attend. Nonetheless, a growing number of African leaders have criticised the state-orchestrated violence against Mugabe's opponents and said the election will not be free.
US president George Bush last night called the run-off a "sham". His assistant secretary of state for Africa, Jendayi Frazer, said Washington will not recognize the outcome of Friday's ballot. "People were being beaten and losing their lives just to exercise their right to vote for their leadership, so we cannot, under these conditions, recognize the outcome if, in fact, this runoff goes forward."
France yesterday took a similar position, while Gordon Brown told the Commons that Britain would stand alongside African leaders who do not accept the legitimacy of the regime and the "criminal cabal" surrounding Mugabe.
"We want to see a peaceful transition as soon as possible. If we look back at the elections that did take place, it was clear Mugabe had lost those elections," the prime minister said.
Brown said the government was preparing intensified financial and travel restrictions against named members of the Zimbabwe administration. But Mugabe remained defiant, saying that tomorrow's election would go ahead.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, who pulled out of the ballot this week owing to the systematic violence against his supporters, briefly left his refuge inside the Dutch embassy in Harare yesterday to call for African leaders to oversee a transitional administration in Zimbabwe until genuine democracy can be established.
He called on the continent's leaders, meeting at an African Union summit in Egypt next week, to intervene in place of "talks, and talks about talks, that have been largely fruitless for several years".
"The time for action is now. The people and the country can wait no longer. We need to show leadership. 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 declined to discuss details of such a government, saying they should be sorted out through negotiations.
"The election is not a solution," he said. "What is a solution is some sort of transitional process to address the critical issues facing the country. We are making proposals Mugabe has to accept."
Asked if his party had had contacts with the ruling Zanu-PF about the transition, Tsvangirai said: "Everyone is searching for a solution, including Zanu-PF."
He warned that the MDC would not have dealings with the government that emerges from Friday's election - although that did not rule out bilateral talks with the ruling party, the most likely route for negotiations.
Tsvangirai also said there could be no negotiations until a series of conditions were met: an end to the state-orchestrated violence, the lifting of the bar on international organizations delivering aid, the swearing-in of the new parliament - in which the MDC won a majority; and the release by the government of political prisoners including the MDC's secretary general, Tendai Biti.
In a statement to the Zimbabwe Times he added: We are proposing that the African Union facilitation team, comprising eminent Africans, set up a transitional period which takes into account the will of the people of Zimbabwe .
"The AU team would lead in the constituting and character of the transitional period. The transitional period would allow the country to heal. As the MDC, we have always said we will be magnanimous in our victory. Honest dialog among Zimbabweans is the only way forward. The MDC is a people's project; we value our county and our people.
The region's Roman Catholic bishops entered into the crisis yesterday saying that God's judgment awaits Mugabe, who is a Catholic, and his party.
"We warn that the atrocities and barbarism of Zanu-PF are being documented. Mr Mugabe's actions and those of his generals, their wives, his thugs supporters and the so-called 'war veterans' are offensive in the eyes of God. Judgment awaits," the Southern African catholic bishops' conference said in a statement.
Last week, Mugabe said that only God could remove him from power.