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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Bush on Mugabe

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President Bush today forcefully urged Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe to step down today.

"The will of the people needs to be respected in Zimbabwe," Bush told a White House press conference as the UN Security Council prepared to discuss the month-long election turmoil in the troubled southern African nation.

Bush said it was clear that the people of Zimbabwe had voted for change in the March 29 parliamentary and presidential elections "because their president has failed the country" after 28 years in power.

Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe ever since independence from Britain and is a hero of Africa's national liberation movements but he has presided over a spiralling economic crisis.

Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party lost control of parliament for the first time since 1980 to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), whose leader Morgan Tsvangirai has also claimed victory in the presidential vote.

No official result has yet been issued from the presidential election.

Mugabe is a criminal and one of the world's worst dictators, an extraordinary accomplishment considering the competition. The Washington Post details some of what is a long and horrific list of crimes:

THE EVIDENCE is now overwhelming that the Zimbabwean regime of Robert Mugabe is engaged in a massive, orchestrated and brutal campaign to punish and terrorize its opponents. Security forces and militia groups loyal to the 84-year-old autocrat have rampaged across the countryside for the past month, targeting opposition activists and whole villages suspected of having voted against the government in the March 29 elections. In some areas, torture camps have been established where victims are taken and beaten while their homes are looted and burned. The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association said yesterday that at least 10 people have been killed and hundreds displaced; the opposition Movement for Democratic Change counts 15 dead, 3,000 refugees and 500 hospitalized.

It is generally agreed that Mugabe lost the election by a wide margin to Tsvangirai and his refusal to release the results will be just his latest crime if he is allowed to get away with it. Bush's applying the pressure here is necessary and right, especially considering the lack of any significant pressure being applied by the UN, which yet again is proving itself to be useless against tyrants.

President Bush has shown a great deal of positive leadership in areas relating to Africa and he's doing so again here. Now the rest of the world needs to follow.

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air has more details.

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