The Reuters Fact Box on international reaction to the decision by Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to pull out of the race :
Zambia (SADC Chair):
South Africa :
"There are a lot of unconstitutional things that have been done in this process(election campaign). It will, therefore, not be out of fashion to postpone this election to avert a catastrophe in this region....The events in Zimbabwe are moving too fast. Tsvangirai has announced he is pulling out, and it will be scandalous for SADC to remain silent....What is happening in Zimbabwe is, of course, of tremendous embarrassment to all of us, and I hope sooner than later we can find a solution..."
"From our point of view it is still necessary that the political leadership of Zimbabwe should get together and find a solution to the challenges that face Zimbabwe....I would hope that that leadership would be open to a process which would result in them coming to some agreement about what happens to their country. And that most certainly is what we would try to encourage".
"The government of Zimbabwe and its thugs must stop the violence now......All parties should be able to participate in a legitimate election and not be subject to the intimidation and unlawful actions of the government, armed militias and so-called war veterans".
"...the withdrawal of Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai is understandable, given the unacceptable systematic campaign of violence, obstruction and intimidation lead by the Zimbabwean authorities, which has continued for several weeks...In these conditions, the elections have become a travesty of democracy. They are certainly not worthy of the African continent of today."
"Now we face a critical crisis of legitimacy because it's clear that the only people with any shred of legitimacy are the people who won the March 29 first round and that was the opposition....We have reached an absolutely critical moment in the drive by the people of Zimbabwe to rid themselves of the tyrannical rule of Robert Mugabe."
"The French President holds responsible the Zimbabwean authorities, which have deliberately chosen the path of violence to gag the people of Zimbabwe and prevent them from expressing themselves freely at the ballot box.... he (the French President) condemns the campaign of very serious acts of violence perpetrated by President Mugabe against Mr Tsvangirai, opposition supporters and the people of Zimbabwe.....These violences constitute a blatant violation of democracy......France is ready to take, with its European Union partners, all necessary measures against those responsible for this electoral masquerade..."
No word yet from China and Russia on the matter. A positive reaction (or negatively if you are a ZANU-PF supporter) from those two would bode well for a strong UN Security Council position on the matter. Zimbabwe has become a security threat to the SADC region especially to Zambia and Botswana. We cannot afford to let a despotic leader plunge the region into chaos and reverse the progress we are trying to make in many areas. Frankly, this has now gone beyond petty intellectual discussions about land, sanctions and other matters. The game is now up for Sir Bob and he must now recognise that it is time to step aside before he takes the whole region with him. I am sure Zambia can offer him exile at Chilubi Island, to spare him from the Hague.