UN Calls on Zimbabwe to Postpone Friday Election

In Zimbabwe, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai remains in refuge in the Dutch embassy in Harare where he fled after withdrawing from Friday's presidential runoff election. The U.N. Security Council has called for a postponement of Friday's vote, saying in a statement that ongoing violence there makes a free and fair election impossible.

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BILL WOLFF: From NPR News in New York, this is the Bryant Park Project.

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RACHEL MARTIN, host:

Overlooking historic Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, live from NPR Studios, this is the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. News, information, doppelgangers. I'm Rachel Martin.

MIKE PESCA, host:

Or are you?

MARTIN: Mm.

PESCA: And I'm Mike Pesca. It's Tuesday, June 24th. I'm fascinated by the idea of the doppelganger.

MARTIN: The doppelganger.

PESCA: Why do you bring the doppelganger up?

MARTIN: Well, Mike, because I interviewed this woman Rivka Galchen. She is a new author. She just wrote this, her debut novel. It's called "Atmospheric Disturbances." It's quite a good read, complex, thick, and it's all about this mystery where this guy discovers - one day he wakes up and some imposter posing as his wife has come into his life.

PESCA: An exact duplicate.

MARTIN: A doppelganger.

PESCA: I'm fascinated by the fact that we would have to have this word for exact duplicate other than exact duplicate. Bless the Germans for that.

MARTIN: Well, yeah...

PESCA: Doppelganger!

MARTIN: Because everyone says somewhere in the world you have your exact twin walking out there.

PESCA: I think most people find that absolutely ridiculous.

MARTIN: It's true!

PESCA: It's true?

MARTIN: I - what? Jacob says no, it's not true?

PESCA: No, it's not.

MARTIN: It is true! My mom found her identical twin. Very freaky. They came face to face in Chicago.

PESCA: Yeah?

MARTIN: Just on a street.

PESCA: Yeah.

MARTIN: And they looked at each other in the eye...

PESCA: Yeah.

MARTIN: And then they basically freaked out, and then turned away, and said we shall never speak of this again.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: And each tried to harvest the other's organs.

JACOB GANZ: I'm just saying (unintelligible).

PESCA: Yeah, yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: No one believes - I don't think people believe in the doppelganger, yet I find it interesting that they do believe in the soul mate, which to me...

MARTIN: Yeah, I believe in those, too. Fine. Crush all my dreams, Mike Pesca.

PESCA: Which to me is - what if your doppelganger is your soul mate? That's weird!

MARTIN: That's narcissism.

PESCA: Yeah, or worse. Coming up...

MARTIN: Yeah, what's coming up?

PESCA: We've learned a little about the interrogation methods used on alleged 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. We're going to dig into this story with Mark Bowden, author of "Black Hawk Down," who has been following - kind of on the torture beat for years.

MARTIN: And as I mentioned, we're going to have a conversation with author, Rivka Galchen, the debut novel called "Atmospheric Disturbances." We'll have that conversation coming up this hour.

PESCA: Plus, in advance of the Paralympics, which takes place right after the Olympics, China put together a brochure to tell people how to deal with disabled folks, but the brochure was really poorly worded, didn't go over so well. We will find out why. All that plus The Most and today's headlines in just a minute, but first...

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MARTIN: International pressure is mounting for the government of Zimbabwe to postpone the country's presidential runoff election. That's after opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, took refuge at the Dutch embassy in Zimbabwe's capital of Harare over fears for his safety. Yesterday, the 15 members of the U.N. Security Council unanimously called on Zimbabwe to postpone Friday's vote. Here's U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Zalmay Khalilzad.

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Ambassador ZALMAY KHALILZAD (Permanent U. S. Ambassador, The United Nations): The Security Council condemns the campaign of violence against a political opposition ahead of the second round of presidential elections, scheduled for 27 June, which has resulted in the killing of scores of opposition activists and other Zimbabweans, and the beating and displacement of thousands of people, including many women and children.

PESCA: But Zimbabwe's ambassador to the U.N. responded to the Security Council vote, by pledging to go ahead with the election as scheduled.

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Ambassador BONIFACE CHIDYAUSIKU (Permanent Representative of Zimbabwe, The United Nations): We take note of their concerns, but as far as we are concerned, the dates have been set.

MARTIN: Tsvangirai defeated long-time Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe in a vote on March 29th, but Mugabe's ruling party claimed that his margin of victory was too small, requiring the runoff election. On Sunday, Tsvangirai pulled out of the runoff, in the midst of a wave of violence and intimidation against his supporters. Human rights' groups say 85 people have been killed, and tens of thousands have been displaced.

PESCA: Police loyal to Mugabe raided Tsvangirai's party headquarters on Monday, rounding up dozens of people. The candidate's closest aide has fled the country. Tsvangirai told NPR yesterday that his staying in the race would have made no difference, that Mugabe would never accept the result of a free and fair election.

(Soundbite of NPR's Morning Edition, June 23, 2008)

Mr. MORGAN TSVANGIRAI (President, Movement for Democratic Change, Zimbabwe): He has already declared that he will not accept the opposition victory, he is not going to hand over power, and that he is going to go to war if he lost. So, under those circumstances, Mugabe has determined that he wants to stay in power forever and ever.

MARTIN: Tsvangirai has told Dutch radio that the Dutch ambassador has received assurances there is no threat against him, and he may leave his refuge in the Dutch embassy in the next few days. You can go to npr.org throughout the day for updates on this story. Now let's get more of the day's news headlines with the BPP's Matt Martinez.

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