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US embassy said MDC stay-away was a PR failure

COMMENT

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6. (C) ALTHOUGH LAST WEEK'S MASS ACTION WAS SUCCESSFUL IN

CLOSING DOWN MOST BUSINESS IN HARARE AND OTHER CITIES, IT WAS

SOMETHING OF A PR FAILURE. TSVANGIRAI APPARENTLY

OVERESTIMATED HIS SUPPORTERS' COURAGE IN THE FACE OF PROBABLE

VIOLENCE. HIS ANNOUNCEMENT THAT THE MDC HAD CANCELED

DEMONSTRATIONS FOR FEAR OF INJURY TO THE PUBLIC SEEMED TO BE

SPINNING THE NEWS AS BEST HE COULD. CERTAINLY MUGABE IS

REACTING AS THOUGH HE IS FIRMLY IN CHARGE AND CAPABLE OF

DEALING WITH ANY PESKY OPPOSITION THAT MIGHT ARISE. IF HE

SINCERELY BELIEVES THIS, IT DOES NOT BODE WELL FOR SERIOUS

NEGOTIATIONS. NONETHELESS, THE TRAIPSING OF ZANU-PF AND

GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS TO TSVANGIRAI SHOWS THAT THE REGIME

RECOGNIZES THAT IT HAS NO WAY OUT OF THE COUNTRY'S CRISIS.

IN THAT CONTEXT, HEIGHTENING PRESSURE ON TSVANGIRAI AND THE

MDC THROUGH NEW TREASON CHARGES AND DETENTION CAN BE ANOTHER

WAY TO WEAKEN THE OPPONENT PRIOR TO UNAVOIDABLE DIALOGUE.

END COMMENT

SULLIVAN

(47 VIEWS)

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