The United Nations Security Council said a free and fair run-off election was impossible in Zimbabwe because of a government campaign of violence against the opposition. (Bloomberg) Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai—favored in polls over longtime President Robert Mugabe—took refuge in the Dutch embassy to escape soldiers. The government accused him of withdrawing and fleeing to tarnish the vote, which is scheduled for Friday. (London Times Online)
What the commentators said
So, that’s it, said The Washington Post in an editorial. Mugabe’s “campaign of terror against the people of Zimbabwe is succeeding.” And he’ll get away with the crime of stealing the election, and sending out his thugs to kill 86 opposition supporters and “beat or displace” thousands of others. The only hope is that the United Nations and Zimbabwe’s neighbors across Africa intervene with serious pressure on Mugabe—but the weak international response so far gives him reason to bet that won’t happen.
“A solution for Zimbabwe's crisis isn't hard to come by,” said Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal. “Someone—ideally the British—must remove Mugabe by force, install Tsvangirai as president, arm his supporters, prevent any rampages, and leave.” So let’s “end the hand-wringing” and get going.
What choice is there? said The Miami Herald in an editorial. Mugabe, “who is still seen in some quarters as a black hero who drove whites out of the country,” has said flatly that he will never let Tsvangirai be president. Mugabe considers his rival “a pawn of the British, whom he despises as colonialists.” Clearly, he is willing to let his hatred “destroy him and Zimbabwe, too.”