Zimbabwe's Government Remains Defiant

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When Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew Sunday from the country's tumultuous presidential runoff election, he called it a sham and said he feared for the lives of his supporters.

In an interview with NPR's Robert Siegel, a spokesman for President Robert Mugabe rebutted Tsvangirai's charges of voter intimidation, as well as recent reports that opposition backers have been beaten or killed.

"All the reports that you are dealing with are reports that are coming either from the British machinery or from the American machinery," says the spokesman, George Charamba, in a phone interview from Zimbabwe's capital city, Harare.

Charamba says Tsvangirai withdrew from the election, which is still scheduled to take place Friday, after realizing "he had been facing round rejections" and that he would not repeat his earlier "fluke victory" in voting March 29.

On Monday, the United Nations Security Council passed a unanimous resolution condemning Zimbabwe's electoral crisis. The resolution described how "the campaign of violence and the restrictions on the political opposition have made it impossible for a free and fair election to take place." Charamba calls the resolution a "complete misrepresentation of the facts on the ground."

He says Western governments have exaggerated the current crisis. The same countries that supported the U.N. resolution are to blame for Zimbabwe's economic and political woes, Charamba says.

The United States and Britain supported Tsvangirai in order to impose a 'neo-colonial' regime in Zimbabwe, Charamba says. But "we are a mature society," he says. "We have judgment. That's why we have an electoral process and will decide who will govern us. It can not be the function of an outsider."



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