Tutu calls for peacekeeping deployment in Zim

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called for an international peacekeeping force to be deployed in Zimbabwe to prevent any violence during a presidential run-off ballot next month.

Zimbabwe is due to hold the delayed second-round ballot on June 27, when the opposition hopes to oust veteran leader Robert Mugabe after nearly three decades in power. A first round of elections in March was followed by widespread violence.

Tutu, the South African Nobel Peace Prize laureate, told Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper the deployment of international peacekeepers was the only way to prevent Mugabe’s supporters from intimidating and threatening the opposition.

“It would be in everybody’s interest to send an international peacekeeping force to Zimbabwe,” he said. “That is the only way to make sure no violence will be exerted.”

Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai postponed his return home on Saturday to contest the run-off vote after his party said it had discovered an assassination plot against him.

Tsvangirai won the first round on March 29, but not by enough votes to avoid a second round against Mugabe.

Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says the violence after the March elections left at least 40 of its supporters dead and scores of others injured. It accuses Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party of a campaign of intimidation.

Zanu-PF blames the opposition for the violence.

Tutu did not expect a free and fair second-round ballot and had the impression Mugabe would not give up power of his own free will, Welt am Sonntag reported.

Tutu said Mugabe must be told he could either lead an illegitimate government and live with the consequences, “for example an indictment before the International Criminal Court due to the grave human rights violations” in his name, or accept a “soft landing” by resigning and perhaps living in exile.

Mugabe vowed on Friday he would not lose power to an opposition he said was backed by “a hostile axis of powerful foreign governments” and Western imperialists.

Zimbabweans hope the June poll will help end political and economic turmoil which has brought 165 000% inflation, 80% unemployment, chronic food and fuel shortages and sent a flood of refugees to neighbouring countries.—Reuters

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