[JURIST] Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], presidential candidate of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) [party website], Wednesday called for the United Nations and African leaders to lead a settlement process aimed at ending the ongoing violent political crisis in Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai's comments came at a press conference held during a temporary departure [Radio Netherlands report] from the Dutch embassy in Harare, where he has been staying since Sunday after announcing his withdrawal from a presidential run-off election [AFP report] against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] scheduled for this Friday. In withdrawing from the elections, Tsvangirai cited increasing violence against his party by Mugabe's government and said that he would not ask his supporters to risk their lives by voting in the run-off election. In an editorial published Wednesday in The Guardian, Tsvangirai also urged the UN to send an international peacekeeping force to Zimbabwe to oversee the country's presidential elections and end attacks on MDC politicians and activists by the government. BBC News has more. AP has additional coverage.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai are disputing the results of the recent presidential elections [JURIST news archive]. The MDC has estimated that at least 65 of its members have been killed [BBC report] since the first election in March. Human rights groups suggested that state-sponsored violence would only increase as the second presidential vote drew closer, and in the past few weeks the amount of election-related violence has increased, including the beating [ABC News report], torture [National Post report], and killing [NYT report] of MDC supporters throughout Zimbabwe. Last week, Mugabe's government expelled a UN human rights observer [JURIST news report]. Earlier this month, government forces stopped and detained US and UK diplomats [JURIST report], threatening them and beating one of their drivers.