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Cablegate: Situation Report: One Week Later: Tsvangirai Calls

VZCZCXRO4315
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0282/01 0961523
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 051523Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2710
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1890
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2013
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0583
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1290
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1647
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2069
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4500
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUAEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1140
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000282

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

AF/S FOR S. HILL
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS
STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PGOV PHUM ASEC CASC ZI
SUBJECT: SITUATION REPORT: ONE WEEK LATER: TSVANGIRAI CALLS
FOR RESULTS, RECONCILIATION

REF: HARARE 278

1. (SBU) SUMMARY One week after election day, in the wake of
a government crackdown on international journalists and NGO
staff, opposition presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai
held a press conference to reiterate his call for the
Zimbabwean Electoral Commission (ZEC) to announce the
official results of the presidential race. Confident that he
had won, Tsvangirai focused his speech on the importance of
national reconciliation and a peaceful transfer of power to
the opposition. Tsvangirai confirmed that the MDC's April 5
attempt to petition the court to compel ZEC to release the
results was blocked by security forces, and called on the
international community to prevent violence and chaos. One
American, a New York Times reporter, remains in jail. An
Amcit NDI employee was released Friday night, but police are
holding his passport and he has been told he will not be
permitted to leave Zimbabwe before Monday. END SUMMARY

2. (SBU) On April 5, MDC presidential candidate Morgan
Tsvangirai held a press conference to renew his call for ZEC

SIPDIS
to release the full official results of the presidential
contest and for Robert Mugabe to respect the will of the
Zimbabwean people. Confident that he has won the race for
the presidency, Tsvangirai stated that "on March 29, the
Zimbabwean people spoke with one voice. They voted for food,
they voted for jobs, they voted for social security and new
hope. The result is known; the MDC has won this election."
In a veiled reference to 2005's Operation Murambatsvina, in
which some 750,000 Zimbabweans were displaced by the
government, Tsvangirai stated that "if Mugabe thinks he can
bulldoze his way into another presidency, history will be the
judge."

3. (SBU) Condemning any "reengineering" of the result by the
Mugabe regime, Tsvangirai condemned the ZEC for the delay,
which had entered its seventh day. Tsvangirai confirmed that
an attempt by the MDC's attorneys to file a petition at court
requesting that ZEC be compelled to release the results was
blocked by security forces, one of whom was wearing a ZANU-PF
t-shirt at the time. Nonetheless, Tsvangirai suggested that
a hearing could take place as soon as April 6.

4. (SBU) Tsvangirai also called on the Southern African
Development Community, the African Union and the UN to
prevent violence. He said that African leaders must say "no"
to Mugabe. Warning that ZANU-PF was "preparing war on the
Zimbabwean people, like in 2000 and 2001," Tsvangirai stated
that for Mugabe "violence is the new weapon to reverse the
people's will." Tsvangirai suggested that ZANU-PF's return
to campaign activities, including an announcement by Mugabe's
spokesman that ZANU-PF would contest in a runoff, the
increased presence of security forces, and rumors of the
creation of "no-go areas" for the MDC, indicated that the
ruling party had "insider information" from ZEC about the
outcome of the election. Tsvangirai again stated that a
runoff would be "unreasonable" according to the MDC's
internal tally and that he would not accept the "reversal" of
the people's will. Tsvangirai said the MDC would challenge a
ZEC announcement that he had not won a majority of votes. He
hinted the MDC would not participate in a runoff if the
environment was too hostile.

5. (SBU) Despite some harsh rhetoric, Tsvangirai also devoted
much of his speech to calling for national reconciliation.
In an attempt to calm fears of a violent handover of power,
Tsvangirai addressed civil servants; including the security

SIPDIS
forces, war veterans and landowners. He said that none of
them would face persecution, or lose jobs or property under
an inclusive MDC presidency. Noting other African nations

HARARE 00000282 002 OF 002


which have made nonviolent political transitions, Tsvangirai
also made a direct appeal to Mugabe to enter into a dialogue
in order to "begin the peaceful transfer of government."

6. (SBU) Charges against the imprisoned New York Times
reporter were adjusted today: he is now accused of practicing
journalism without accreditation during an election. His
attorney is confident that these charges can be successfully
defended, but his release does not appear imminent. The NDI
employee who was released Friday night spent seven hours
Saturday at Harare Central police station, hoping to recover
his passport and be cleared to depart the country. Instead,
he was told he will have to check in at the station Sunday
morning at 9, and further consideration will be given to his
case on Monday. There are no charges lodged against him. An
accredited Canadian journalist was reportedly detained today
after she checked in to depart the country; we believe she
was later releaed without charge.

6. (SBU) COMMENT: Aware that the eye of the international
media is on Zimbabwe in the wake of elections, the MDC
appears to be strategically employing public relations
tactics to ensure attention continues. By simultaneously
casting his presidency as an opportunity for reconciliation
and reaching out to those actors that have historically
supported Mugabe, Tsvangirai is seeking to secure either a
peaceful transfer of power or, if necessary, a runoff
victory. END COMMENT.
MCGEE

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