The opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday pulled out of this week's presidential election in Zimbabwe, saying he is not prepared to ask people to die by voting for him, and accusing Robert Mugabe of "waging a war against the people". The Movement for Democratic Change leadership met and decided to withdraw from what it called a "violent, illegitimate sham of an election" amid the murders by the ruling Zanu PF militia and security forces of 100 opposition activists, the torture and rape of thousands of MDC supporters, and a state-orchestrated campaign of terror across swathes of the country.
In his statement, Tsvangirai said he had little choice but to withdraw: "The militia, war veterans and even Mugabe himself have made it clear that anyone that votes for me in the forthcoming election faces the very real possibility of being killed. We in the MDC cannot ask them to cast their vote on June 27 when that vote could cost them their lives. We believe a credible election, which reflects the will of the people, is impossible." Zimbabwe's justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa, said that if Tsvangirai writes to the electoral commission formally declaring he has pulled out, then the election will be called off and Mugabe declared president again.