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Mugabe more isolated

The opposition's pullout from Friday's vote raises pressure on Zimbabwe's leader.

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Under threat: Zimbabwe's main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is now seeking refuge in the Dutch Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters

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Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's decision Sunday to pull out of Friday's runoff election is increasing international pressure on President Robert Mugabe to stop the violence and allow a peaceful transfer of power in Zimbabwe.

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said Sunday that it is "scandalous for the SADC to remain silent on Zimbabwe."

Now all eyes are trained on South African President Thabo Mbeki, who the SADC has charged with mediating a peaceful solution to the Zimbabwe crisis, including a possible unity government. "I would hope that the leadership [of both parties] would still be open to a process which would result in them coming to some agreement," he said.

Sunday's turn of events may succeed in saving lives – at a time when more than 80 opposition activists have been killed and thousands displaced by pro-government militias – but in diplomatic circles it has had the effect of an ultimatum.

Britain's Africa Minister Mark Malloch Brown said Monday that the United Nations Security Council, the European Union (EU), and the African Union (AU) should consider wider sanctions.

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