Zimbabwean opposition leader seeks refuge in Dutch embassy

24th June 2008, Comments 0 comments

Morgan Tsvangirai is seeking refuge in the Dutch embassy in Harare as he fears for his life after withdrawing from the run-off presidential election.

24 June 2008

HARARE - All of today's papers carry a photograph of Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on their front pages and while the headlines vary, they all convey the same message: "safe in Dutch embassy".

On Sunday evening, the Movement for Democratic Change leader sought refuge in the Dutch embassy in Harare, as he feared for his life and the lives of MDC supporters.

On Sunday evening, Tsvangirai announced his withdrawal from the run-off presidential election, saying that, "pre-poll violence has made a free and fair election impossible".

NRC.next writes that the gates to the Dutch embassy have been closed and quotes the ambassador as saying, "Please, no commotion". But as the paper rightly notes, the commotion has already started and the Netherlands is now at the centre of the election crisis in Zimbabwe.

NRC.next reports that diplomats had attempted to keep it quiet but that Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen was forced to confirm the rumours on Monday afternoon after the news leaked.

Trouw writes that it is no surprise Tsvangirai chose the Dutch embassy as The Hague supports human rights organisations in Zimbabwe to the tune of EUR 1.6 million per year and has been calling for free and fair elections for some time now. The paper also interviews a Zimbabwean human rights lawyer who says, "It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if Morgan Tsvangirai was murdered".

On Monday, the UN Security Council unanimously condemned the campaign of violence targeting the Zimbabwean opposition party, and AD quotes Foreign Minister Verhagen: "We have guaranteed Mr Tsvangirai's safety as he is the most important victim of the hate campaign being waged by President Mugabe's ZANU-PF". The minister adds that the situation in Zimbabwe is "scandalous".

[Radio Netherlands / Jacqueline Carver / Expatica]

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