Tsvangirai calls for justice

MARONDERA, ZIMBABWE (AP) – Justice must be done following widespread political attacks blamed on Robert Mugabe's police, soldiers and party militants, Zimbabwe's main opposition leader said Saturday before cheering crowds in a northern area believed to have seen some of the worst of the violence.

The violence prompted Morgan Tsvangirai to withdraw from a June presidential runoff after winning the March first round of voting. Mugabe claimed victory in the runoff, but it was widely denounced as a sham and last month Mugabe had to sign a power-sharing agreement with Tsvangirai.

The deal, though, has not been implemented because of disputes over who will control which Cabinet posts.

"Justice must not only be seen to be done, but it should be done," Tsvangirai told about 12,000 people in a stadium in Marondera, in a rural northern region known as Mashonaland. International human rights groups have said Mashonaland suffered high levels of political violence because voters there turned to Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change, angering Mugabe supporters who had seen it as their stronghold.

Tsvangirai did not elaborate Saturday on how justice should be done. In the past, he has called for truth and reconciliation hearings he believes would lead to healing, rather than trials that could lead to jail terms for human rights abusers.

Tsvangirai has said trials could distract from the work of rebuilding Zimbabwe. There are also concerns Mugabe and his top cronies are stalling implementation of the power-sharing deal because they fear they could be tried for human rights violations.

Leaders of Zimbabwe’s neighboring countries are due in Harare Monday to try to persuade Tsvangirai and Mugabe to conclude their power-sharing deal. Tsvangirai has agreed to attend the meeting, though his party has questioned Mugabe’s willingness to surrender key Cabinet posts and called for a full regional summit to pressure Mugabe. Monday’s meeting is not a full summit, but a meeting of an important committee of the Southern African Development Community.

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who brokered the stalled power-sharing agreement, was also to attend Monday’s meeting. Tsvangirai has repeated accused Mbeki of bias toward Mugabe, saying the South African’s refusal to publicly criticize either side amounts to appeasement of Mugabe.

"Quiet diplomacy does not mean quiet approval," Tsvangirai said in his speech Saturday.

Tsvangirai also said leaders needed to conclude the deal and turn their attention to Zimbabwe’s mounting economic crisis. Zimbabweans are struggling with the world’s highest inflation rate and scarcity of food, fuel and most other basic goods. The U.N. predicts half the population will need food aid by next year.