Human Rights Flashpoints - October 27, 2009

October 27, 2009

Zimbabwe – Political Standoff Continues
The situation remains tense in Zimbabwe after Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai temporarily withdrew from the governing coalition on October 16th. Following the 10-day standoff, Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) boycotted Tuesday’s cabinet meeting since the party’s outstanding complaints with Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party have yet to be addressed. The initial catalyst for the disengagement of the MDC was the temporary detainment of one of its senior members, Roy Bennett, by government forces.  The MDC has continued its boycott on the basis that Mugabe is still not fully implementing arrangements of the Global Political Agreement, that key cabinet appointments remain unsettled and that ZANU-PF supporters and security forces have refused to halt their intimidation campaign of MDC’s lawmakers and supporters. MDC security official Edith Mashaire told IRIN about an assault attempt:

Two other men, one brandishing an AK-47 rifle and another holding a pistol, approached me and threatened to shoot me. They started assaulting me with their weapons while telling me to get into the truck

Since the break between the parties, the MDC has been soliciting support from other southern African leaders asking for their intervention in the standoff.  On Thursday, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) will hold a meeting in Harare to discuss possible remedies for the political impasse. However, there is concern that if the SADC is unable find a political solution and reach agreement between the two parties, new elections will be the only viable alternative. This could in turn lead to escalations of violence similar to the violence experienced leading up to and after the June 2008 elections.

Must Reads


  • October 26: Amnesty International releases report on Israel’s discriminatory water policies and practices towards Palestinians
  • October 27: General Elections in Mozambique
  • October 29: Southern African Development Community (SADC) meeting in Harare
  • October 30 – November 30: Amnesty International USA’s Southern Regional Conference

Human Rights Flashpoints is a weekly column about countries at risk of escalating human rights violations and is brought to you by AIUSA’s Crisis Prevention and Response team