Zimbabwe oppression

The Baltimore Sun

The government of President Robert G. Mugabe in Zimbabwe was condemned this week in the strongest possible terms for a wave of violence against his political opponents that the U.N. Security Council declared has "made it impossible for a free and fair election to take place" this Friday.

Mr. Mugabe's reign of terror has forced Morgan Tsvangirai, his would-be opponent in a runoff election for the Zimbabwean presidency, to withdraw and seek refuge in the Dutch Embassy. A defiant Mr. Mugabe says he plans to go forward with the election, regardless of the international outrage over his behavior. If the election is held, the results should be rejected in the strongest possible terms and the international community should take steps to isolate Zimbabwe politically and economically in ways that will force the country's military leaders and other Mugabe supporters to personally feel the pain and agree to fair elections.

One troubling aspect of the current crisis is that while the African National Congress - the ruling party in South Africa, Zimbabwe's powerful neighbor - yesterday condemned Mr. Mugabe for "riding roughshod over the hard-won democratic rights" of its people, it also rejected the idea of outside diplomatic intervention, saying, "It has always been and continues to be the view of our movement that the challenges facing Zimbabwe can only be solved by the Zimbabweans themselves."

The ANC said the cruel history of Western oppression in Africa made it inappropriate for Britain and other former colonial powers to interfere in Zimbabwe's internal politics. That stance should place a heavy responsibility on South Africa to seek justice for Zimbabwe's battered citizens.

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