Tsvangirai formally delivers withdrawal letter

June 24th, 2008 - 10:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Harare, June 24 (DPA) Morgan Tsvangirai, the major contender in Zimbabwe’s bloody presidential run-off election, Tuesday formally notified electoral authorities of his withdrawal from the race, officials of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) confirmed. “The letter was delivered to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission this afternoon,” said MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa. “It was signed by Morgan Tsvangirai.”

The 11-page letter began: “In my considered view, the conditions presently obtaining throughout the country make it virtually impossible for a proper election, envisaged in both the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the Electoral Act, to take place.”

Tsvangirai, currently in the Dutch embassy in Harare where he sought refuge Sunday, announced earlier that day that he was withdrawing because “we cannot ask them (the electorate) to cast their votes on the 27th (of June) for us when it could well cost them their lives.”

Chamisa said the letter cited violence that is reported to have claimed 86 fatalities in the 12 weeks since the first round of the election March 29, rigging and violation of electoral law.

Tsvangirai earlier described the election as “violent, illegitimate sham of an electoral process”.

It is not yet clear whether the 56-year-old Tsvangirai’s formal withdrawal will mean the election will be called off by election authorities now that it is officially a one-man race. Lawyers said electoral law made no provision for the situation.

ZEC chairman George Chiweshe has said since Tsvangirai’s announcement Sunday that without formal notification, the election would have to be held.

“This looks like the official stance is that the election will go ahead,” said Veritas, a legal organisation that provides commentaries on new legislation and legal controversies.

Earlier Tuesday, Chiweshe said in the state-controlled Herald newspaper that “the country is in every sense of the word prepared for this election. We are ready and would look forward to a credible election come Friday.”

He said polling officers were being deployed and ballot papers were being transported to 1,958 polling stations around the country.

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