July 2, 2008

Tsvangirai Has Few Options in Zimbabwe

By The Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) - The two paths of Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai are telling: Mugabe, newly sworn in as Zimbabwe's president again, is at a summit of African leaders while the opposition leader holes up in a Western embassy in Zimbabwe's capital.

Tsvangirai is hemmed in by Mugabe's policemen, soldiers and ruling party thugs as well as the president's cozy relationship with fellow African leaders.

The round-faced, ever-affable Tsvangirai insists he is hopeful - "As far as we are concerned we are nearer a resolution than we have ever been," he says - but his options appear few.

He wants African leaders to guide negotiations on forming a coalition government to oversee a transition to democracy in Zimbabwe. While some leaders have publicly endorsed that idea, it is unclear how hard they will or can push Mugabe, who has ruled since independence in 1980.

Tsvangirai wants the African Union to send in peacekeepers. That, too, is unlikely, given the difficulties the body already is having with its stalled mission in Sudan's Darfur region, undertaken jointly with the United Nations. AU peacekeepers also are struggling in Somalia.

Tsvangirai, a 56-year-old former trade union leader, is on sensitive ground when he proposes outside help, as shown by his repeated clarifications that peacekeepers would not be tantamount to a military intervention.

He risks being labeled a traitor at home, and leaders elsewhere in Africa might bristle at his perceived lack of sufficient nationalist sentiment.

While under pressure from Western governments and human rights activists to take a hard line, African leaders have long had close ties with the 84-year-old Mugabe, renowned as a campaigner against white rule and colonialism.

(c) 2008 Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.