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Conflicting Reports Surface on Tsvangirai Quitting Zimbabwe Runoff

By VOA News
20 June 2008

There are conflicting reports Friday, on whether Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is considering pulling out of next week's presidential runoff election.

Reuters news agency quotes a spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Nelson Chamisa, as saying the party has received an "avalanche" of calls from supporters to withdraw, and will make a decision on Monday.

But other news reports said Mr. Tsvangirai sent an e-mail to supporters Friday urging them to vote in the June 27 election and end what he called the evil regime of President Robert Mugabe.

The MDC says Mugabe supporters are conducting a campaign of violence and terror ahead of the vote in hopes of securing victory. The party says more than 70 of its supporters have been killed. The president and ruling ZANU-PF party blame the MDC for the violence.

Meanwhile a Zimbabwean judge has refused to release the MDC number-two official, Tendai Biti, who has been charged with treason and other offenses. He has been detained since June 12.

And the independent Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe says the country's state media is carrying out a campaign of hate speech against opponents of the government and ruling party.

The United States, Britain, and an increasing number of leaders from around Africa have expressed strong doubts about the election.

The European Union is expected to threaten further sanctions on those deemed responsible for the violence. A draft statement by EU leaders meeting in Brussels Friday, reiterates the need for the runoff to be peaceful, free and fair.


Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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