Tsvangirai cancels his return
The opposition leader pulls out of a homecoming rally
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has cancelled what was expected to be a triumphant appearance back in the country today, Sunday. The news will deeply disappoint many, and lead to further criticism that Tsvangirai has run away while his supporters are beaten and killed.
The plan had entailed the party leader flying in to attend a rally in the second city of Bulawayo, as the first steps in the campaign for the presidential run-off election on June 27. There was to be no advance notice or publicity. But news of the visit leaked out, resulting in fears for his security.
Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the MDC, would only say this: "We can't say why he will not be coming today, except to say it's due to circumstances beyond our control."
These "circumstances" are believed to include the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and military intelligence going to high alert, as soon as they heard of Tsvangirai's possible appearance. Squads of militia were detailed to snatch him when he addressed the rally, on charges of encouraging violence.
Meanwhile more forces were deployed in every suburb of the city, with instructions from Army Commander Constantine Chiwenga and Police boss Augustine Chihuri to use "maximum force" against any celebrating MDC supporters.
Disappointed MDC activisits said the rally would go ahead as planned - but sadly without its star attraction.