Monday, 31 March 2008

Tsvangirai to offer Mugabe amnesty

Tracy McVeigh in the Observer has a video interview with Zimbabwean Presidential challenger Morgan Tsvangirai. He confidently announces that he expects to win the election, but interestingly, he also appears to offer Robert Mugabe immunity from repercussions if there's a change in government. This quotation is taken from about two minutes in on the video:

If Mugabe would accept the result peacefully and say 'Look thank you very much, I accept the result', I think a lot of people would find it very hard to pursue the man through the deep holes and all these hidden places. I think a lot of people would say 'Look, let bygones be bygones, let's move on'. I think the man has committed so many acts of ... so many crimes against his own people, but personally I am not vindictive.

There you go. Not entirely explicit, but he's certainly floating the possibility of an amnesty for the (hopefully outgoing) President.

It's a clever tactic from the MDC. One of the biggest fears is that Mugabe will simply ignore an opposition win, and declare himself elected regardless - and today's farce, with official results delayed long past the end of the counting, makes that possibility seem even more likely. His motives are not just political, but personal: if he stays in power, he avoids the legal consequences he so justly deserves. It gives him an extra impetus to retain the Presidency at all costs.

These comments from Tsvangirai appear to offer the 84-year-old ruler a slim lifeline - go quietly, and we'll let you retire in peace. And although I hate the idea of a criminal and serial abuser of human rights escaping justice, I have to admit that if it leads to a smooth and peaceful transfer of power, it may be justified. It may be the only way to get rid of Mugabe once and for all.

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