The political charade in Zimbabwe is now complete. President Robert
Mugabe has followed his fraudulent election with a hasty and bombastic
inauguration, and despite the blood on his hands he stands again before
the world self-assured and unashamed. How will the world respond?
Mugabe’s victory was never in doubt, after challenger Morgan Tsvangirai
dropped out of the race because ruling party supporters were beating
and killing his followers. To create the illusion of legitimacy, voters
were herded to the polls and forced to cast ballots under the watchful
eye of police or militia units. Many Zimbabweans said they feared being
beaten if they couldn’t show a finger dipped in indelible ink, official
proof of voting, so they went along with the charade. But others
reportedly resisted, and turnout was low in many rural areas that had
supported Mr. Tsvangerai during first round voting on March 29.
news reports and photos emerged from Zimbabwe documenting the violence
wreaked on opposition party activists, many in the international
community reacted with horror and sadness. Mr. Mugabe rejected the
criticism, saying it was orchestrated in the West to return his country
to colonial status. Yet some of his most telling critics are fellow
leaders from Kenya, Botswana and Zambia who have had a front row seat
on the damage he has done his country.
Mr. Mugabe remains in
office, and world leaders must decide what to do next. The United
Nations and the African Union are discussing the situation, and as they
determine a suitable response they should not legitimize his actions by
dealing with him as if the June 27 voting was a free and fair election.
The United States stands ready to work with those organizations
to resolve the crisis in a manner respectful of voters’ wishes as
expressed in the March balloting. Meanwhile, it will continue to
support the Zimbabwean people with its considerable commitment of food
aid and medical assistance.