Update June 23: After more than 60 supporters were arrested Monday at MDC headquarters, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has taken refuge in the Dutch embassy in Harare.
As a journalist, I never covered Zimbabwe, other than a few stories from the United Nations. So there's nothing I can say here that election observers, members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and reporters on the scene can't say better. But as a human rights activist, I am outraged at what has happened in Zimbabwe. Results of the presidential election March 29 showed Morgan Tsvangirai the rightful winner, by a six percent margin - results even Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF government didn't dispute, after weeks of refusing to release the voting results. But as Tsvangirai failed to secure an overall majority, a run-off was deemed necessary.
Subsequently Mugabe's machinations set the stage for the run-off contest to fail. MDC activists were killed; others were arrested, kidnapped, raped or forced to flee amidst a widespread campaign of fear and intimidation by armed gangs, who set up so-called torture camps ringing the capital Harare. So it is a very sad day indeed when Morgan Tsvangirai pulls out of the runoff election, leaving Mugabe in power by default. The people of Zimbabwe - as well as the rule of law - have suffered a grave loss.