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Zimbabwe’s Election Turmoil Marked by Campaign of Violence

Zimbabwe has been embroiled in a high-profile political crisis, which saw leader Robert Mugabe return to power amid reports of a violent crackdown. The Washington Post's Craig Timberg details his reporting on the story.

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    On March 29th, the autocratic ruler of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, seemed on the verge of losing power after more than two decades. His people, buffeted by years of misrule and economic hardship, had gone to the polls and voted against him and his party in large numbers.

    The government admitted that its party had lost the parliament. Mugabe's opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, claimed the presidency, as well. But the government delayed releasing official presidential results for weeks.

    Tsvangirai's supporters protested the delay. There were also reports that Mugabe's supporters were inflicting violence against opposition members in the countryside.

    On May 2nd, the electoral commission released the official numbers affirming Tsvangirai had won, but not by the majority required to avoid a June 27th run-off with Mugabe.

    During the ensuing campaign, the violence intensified. Tsvangirai's supporters were beaten up, arrested, and killed.


    My house was destroyed to ground level, and all the property was burnt to ashes.


    On June 27th, Tsvangirai withdrew from the run-off, saying his followers were being subjected to an organized campaign of terror.

    MORGAN TSVANGIRAI, Leader, Movement for Democratic Change: Robert Mugabe is not the legitimate leader of Zimbabwe. He's usurping the power of the people. He's brutalized his own people.


    An independent group reported at least 85 people had been killed.

  • ROBERT MUGABE, President, Zimbabwe:

    I, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, do swear that…


    On June 29th, the government announced Mugabe had won with 85 percent of the vote. That same day, he was sworn in for a sixth term.


    Their votes on the 27th of June can never be rejected by anyone.


    Western leaders denounced the election as a sham, and they're pushing for economic sanctions and a U.N. embargo against Zimbabwe.

    Meanwhile, the opposition reports that political violence is continuing against them.

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