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Zimbabwe opposition pulls out of runoff vote

Political commentators and ordinary Zimbabweans say the opposition Movement for Democratic Change's decision Sunday will save lives.

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Political commentators and ordinary Zimbabweans applauded Sunday's announcemnet by opposition Movement for Democratic Change that it would pull out of Friday's election runoff, saying the decision will save many lives.

Yet, with President Robert Mugabe certain to be declared the winner by default and guaranteed another five years in office, Zimbabwe's economic situation will continue to worsen, say analysts.

Given the substantial level of violence used by both government forces and pro-government militias – including attacks on opposition protesters trying to hold a rally in the capital Sunday – pulling out of the election was a logical decision, says University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure.

"In my view it is the right decision because the so-called election had ceased to be an election at all," he says. "So the MDC is right to abandon the election. They valued lives more than power."

While Mr. Mugabe will stay in power, he will suffer a legitimacy crisis both at home and abroad, Mr. Masunungure adds. Mugabe is no longer invited to conferences within the European Union or much of the West, because of his country's poor human rights record. But now Mugabe may find his support diminishing in Africa as well.

Masunungure says the present economic crisis, which has seen inflation of more than 1 million percent – the highest in the world outside a war zone – and unemployment topping 80 percent, will mutate into a "megacrisis."

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