Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from Friday's run-off against Zimbabwe’s longtime president, Robert Mugabe. Tsvangirai said he pulled out to protect his supporters after ruling-party militias killed 86 people. (Bloomberg) Zimbabwe officials, who blame Tsvangirai supporters for the violence, said the election would proceed as planned, and that Tsvangirai's withdrawal was a ruse to avoid “humiliation” if he loses. (BBC News)
What the commentators said
It’s “impossible to fault” Tsvangirai for dropping out, said Mark Daniels in the blog The Moderate Voice. “His withdrawal confirms the sad state of affairs in Zimbabwe.” Mugabe is a “murderous dictator” who has made it clear that he “will do anything, including murdering and intimidating anybody, in order to remain in power.”
But what good does dropping out do? said Agnes Murimi in The Zimbabwe Daily. “Zimbabweans from all walks of life have been left speechless” by Tsvangirai’s decision, in part because they felt he had all but won the battle against Mugabe. And analysts say there’s no guarantee the violence will end, regardless of whether Tsvangirai participates in the run-off.
“The presidential election was never likely to produce a resolution to the crisis in Zimbabwe,” said Marian Tupy in The New York Sun. Mugabe, 84, has made it abundantly clear that he has no intention of giving up power as long as he lives. The “time is ripe” for Mugabe’s neighbors, especially South Africa, and the rest of the world to impose an arms embargo—maybe he won’t be so defiant if his army and police don’t have “the weapons they need to put down internal dissent.”