Zimbabwe opposition chief takes refuge in Dutch Embassy

By
June 23, 2008 22:04

Zimbabwe's opposition leader fled to a Western embassy after pulling out of the presidential runoff, and dozens of his supporters were hustled away by police in a raid on party headquarters Monday. American, African and European leaders denounced the developments in this southern African country, but President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe appeared determined to press ahead with Friday's vote anyway. Opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai had returned to Zimbabwe a month ago to campaign, even though his party said it believed he was the target of a state-sponsored assassination plot. Since then, his top deputy has been arrested on treason charges - which carry the death penalty; he has been repeatedly detained by police; and his supporters have faced such violence that Tsvangirai said Sunday he could not run. Dutch officials said Monday that Tsvangirai sought shelter in their embassy in Harare a day earlier, following his announcement about pulling out of the runoff, and that he had not asked for political asylum. "He asked to come and stay because he was concerned about his safety," Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesman Rob Dekker said.


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