Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe today leads his party into parliamentary elections already branded unfair by the US and the European Union. Yesterday, in his final campaign rally, Mugabe ruled out sharing power with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, which he calls a puppet of British premier Tony Blair. After five years of political crisis in Zimbabwe, some countries, led by neighbouring South Africa, have tried to push the idea of a national unity government.
The opposition accuses the government of planning to rig the poll. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai claims Mugabe is resorting to nationalist rhetoric because he has ruined the economy. This week Tsvangirai told a rally: “Tony Blair has nothing to do with Zimbabwe. If Mugabe wants to contest Tony Blair he should go to Britain.”
The MDC says there has been less intimidation than in parliamentary and presidential votes in 2000 and 2002, when it came close to shock victories. Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party is predicting a “mountainous” victory. That would keep it firmly in control as its 81-year-old leader approaches planned retirement in 2008.