Back to Index
This article participates on the following special index pages:
Strikes and Protests 2007- Save Zimbabwe Campaign
US urges Mugabe to release Tsvangirai
Mail & Guardian (SA)
March 12, 2007
View Save Zimbabwe
of images and articles
The United States
called on Sunday for the immediate release of Zimbabwean opposition
leaders detained after riot police thwarted a planned mass protest
against President Robert Mugabe's government.
States government condemns the brutal and unwarranted actions of
the government of Zimbabwe [on] March 11 in attacking its citizens
peacefully gathered to exercise their legitimate democratic rights
at a prayer meeting in the Harare suburb of Highfield," State
Department spokesperson Sean McCormack said.
The US embassy
reported that one person was killed, "a number" were injured
and 100 people were arrested, including Zimbabwe's main opposition
leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, McCormack said in a statement.
have refused to inform lawyers of the whereabouts of those arrested,
including Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leaders Morgan Tsvangirai
and Arthur Mutambara; and Lovemore Madhuku, head of the National
Constitutional Assembly," he said.
President Robert Mugabe and the government of Zimbabwe accountable
for the government's actions today, and for the safety and well-being
of those in custody," he said.
for the immediate release of those detained, and for the provision
of medical treatment for those injured," McCormack said.
one of dozens of MDC officials and activists detained in the Highfield
area after they tried to defy a ban on protests in the capital.
The police also
confirmed they had shot dead an MDC activist whom they claimed had
ignored warning shots as he threatened a group of officers.
The fatal shooting
and arrests further inflamed opinion among opponents of 83-year-old
Mugabe as he voiced ambitions for another term of office.
It is the second
demonstration in a month against Mugabe, despite a police ban on
all political gatherings.
opposition to his rule, Mugabe on Sunday announced he would run
for re-election as president; he has held power since independence
in 1980. Speaking to the Guardian on a visit to South Africa on
Saturday, Tsvangirai said: "The regime is under siege because
so many people are hungry. Desire for change has never been so strong.
It is against this background that our party demands a new constitution
that will ensure free and fair conditions in the presidential elections
Mugabe was quoted in
the Southern Times, a regional newspaper published jointly by the
Zimbabwean and Namibian state media, as saying that he would run
in 2008: "If the party says so, I will stand." If he wins,
he will be 90 when his new term expires in 2014.
Tsvangirai vowed there
would be more demonstrations in the lead-up to elections, despite
a ban: "We will make the dictatorship costly. They will have
to buy more tear gas and put more police on standby to keep their
regime in power."
The MDC leader tried
to launch his drive for presidential elections under a new constitution
on February 18, but police forcibly dispersed that rally. Police
later announced a ban on all meetings.
Resistance to Mugabe
has grown dramatically, as the economic collapse has accelerated
and standards of living plummet; inflation is at 1 700%, according
to official figures. By saying he will run, Mugabe is expected to
set off opposition throughout Zimbabwe, including turmoil within
his party. Zanu-PF is divided into three camps over who should succeed
him, but several leaders are so determined he must go, they blocked
his effort to get his term extended to 2010.
project" was presented at the Zanu-PF conference in December
it met unprecedented resistance; it was not sent to Parliament for
the needed constitutional amendment, but instead put up for approval
by the party's provincial leadership and then the central committee.
forced Mugabe to simply stand for another six years. "By saying
he'll run for re-election, Mugabe is admitting he failed to extend
his term by two years. He is saying 'You don't want to give me two
more years? Then I will take six,'" said John Makumbe, politics
lecturer at the University
"The most infuriated
people are in his own party. They'll battle him. Mugabe will not
enjoy the support he had in the past. We know has lost touch with
the people, now he has lost touch with his own party." The
situation is seen by the International Crisis Group as "reminiscent
of the last stages of Mobutu's reign in the Congo".
1960 Robert Mugabe, a schoolteacher, becomes active
in the African nationalist movement protesting against the white
minority Rhodesian government
1963 Part of a group that founds the Zimbabwe African
1964 Jailed with other nationalists by the Smith
regime. In prison for 10 years
1975 Secretly crosses to Mozambique where he leads
Zanu's armed struggle
1979 Participates in Lancaster House talks in London
leading to new constitution and election
1980 Wins election and forms government as Zimbabwe's
first prime minister
1983 Sends army to stop rebellion in Matabeleland.
Campaign blamed for death of 20 000 civilians.
2000 Loses referendum for constitution that would
have increased his powers. Orders seizures of white-owned farms
Zanu-PF narrowly wins elections condemned as marked by violence
2002 Defeats Morgan Tsvangirai to be re-elected
president for six-year term. EU and Commonwealth dismiss election
as fraudulent - Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media
Limited 2007, AFP
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.