Leader of opposition in Zimbabwe seeks refuge at Dutch Embassy

source: International Herald Tribune
By Celia W. Dugger and Barry Bearak
Published: June 23, 2008

JOHANNESBURG: The leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition party sought refuge Monday in the Dutch embassy in the capital, Harare, Dutch government officials said. At the same time, the police raided the opposition’s headquarters in Harare and about 30 people were reported detained.

The latest developments came a day after the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, withdrew from a presidential runoff, scheduled for June 27, saying he could neither participate in “this violent, illegitimate sham of an election process,” nor ask his voters to risk their lives in the face of threats from forces backing President Robert Mugabe.

Tsvangirai had only recently returned to Zimbabwe from South Africa where he had fled over fears for his safety. The Dutch foreign ministry said he had not requested asylum but was welcome to stay overnight at the embassy for his own safety, Reuters reported.

Dutch television reported that Tsvangirai entered the embassy shortly after the raid on his party’s headquarters, according to The Associated Press.

The headquarters had become a safe haven for opponents of Mugabe during weeks of state-sponsored violence. An opposition spokesman, Luke Kamborinyoka, said many people had fled as the raid took place but about 30 people, mainly women and children, were loaded into a bus and taken away to [continue reading]

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