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June 23, 2008

Pt 1: Zimbabwe Opposition Withdraws From Election Runoff - Nearly three months after Zimbabwe's Opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change, was told it had not quite won the country's presidential elections. While their candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, had tallied more votes, the government of incumbent Robert Mugabe said the margin of victory was too small to avoid a runoff election.

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Pt 2: Mideast - June 2008 found Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert embroiled in a scandal that gave the Mulroney-Schreiber affair a good run for its money.

Read more here


Today's guest host was Margaret Evans.


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This is The Current.


Zimbabwe Opposition Withdraws From Election Runoff

Zimbabwean Exiles

Nearly three months after Zimbabwe's Opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change, was told it had not quite won the country's presidential elections. While their candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, had tallied more votes, the government of incumbent Robert Mugabe said the margin of victory was too small to avoid a runoff election.

That run-off was scheduled to take place on Friday, June 27. But in the meantime, the MDC and its supporters were the targets of beatings, intimidation and even killings at the hands of the military, leading many to question whether the challenge to Mugabe was worth the blood being shed.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was a vocal critic of the violent tactics, but as recently as Thursday, June 19, 2008, right here on The Current, he maintained the vote must go ahead, no matter what the conditions.

But on Sunday, June 22, 2008, Tsvangirai reversed that decision and stated publicly that the MDC had decided to withdraw from the runoff:

For two different perspectives on the MDC's reversal on the run-off vote, we were joined by two Zimbabweans living in exile: from Pretoria, South Africa by Gabriel Shumba, a human rights lawyer and the founder of the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum; and from London by Gugulethu Moyo, a Zimbabwean lawyer who works on Southern African issues for the International Bar Association in London.


Listen to Part One:

 

Mideast

June 2008 found Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert embroiled in a scandal that gave the Mulroney-Schreiber affair a good run for its money.

A criminal investigation, allegations of illegal campaign contributions, bribes and envelopes stuffed with cash. Rumours swirled, the coalition government became shaky, and members of Olmert's own Kadima party were whetting their knives. And the upshot of all this scandal? The whiff of peace was in the air in the Middle East -- or was it?

Within the span of just a few weeks, Prime Minister Olmert brokered a ceasefire with Gaza's Hamas-led militants, admitted his government was holding peace negotiations with Syria over the Golan Heights captured by Israel in 1967, and even called on Lebanon to engage in direct peace talks. There were also rumours of an imminent prisoner swap with Hezbollah, the Shiite militia movement in Lebanon.

Eytan Gilboa watched it all unfold and trying his best to sort out the honest overtures from the diversionary posturing. He's a Senior Research Associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and he joined us from Tel Aviv.

Hamas could indeed have much to gain by holding to the truce and continuing to keep channels open with Israel: an end to the embargo on Gaza, increased legitimacy abroad and political points scored against its rival, Fatah. Syria's reasons for playing ball with Israel in not so secret overtures being made through Turkish mediators were a little less clear.

Patrick Seale, author of several books on Syria, joined us from Paris, France to offer us a bit of insight on the motivation of the Syrian government.


Listen to Part Two:

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