Zimbabwe's opposition leader called on his supporters Friday to challenge President Robert Mugabe's rule in next week's runoff election despite a “wave of brutality” he says the government has unleashed.
Even as Morgan Tsvangirai urged Zimbabweans to have the courage to vote in the face of a violent crackdown, a judge ordered the No. 2 opposition leader held on treason and other charges until after the election.
“The wave of brutality being inflicted upon our people is reminiscent of the worst days of” white rule, Tsvangirai said in an e-mail, one of the few ways he has of reaching voters.
The opposition leader's attempts to tour the country have regularly been stymied by police at road blocks, and the state-controlled media here all but ignore him.
In a statement adopted Friday, European Union leaders threatened authorities in Zimbabwe with more sanctions.
The document, which came at the end of their two-day summit, did not specify the additional measures, but British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said there could be more targeted sanctions against Mugabe's government.
European Union nations already have an arms embargo against Zimbabwe in addition to a suspension of development aid and an assets freeze and travel ban against Mugabe and 125 other top government officials.
Independent human rights activists have accused Mugabe of deploying police, soldiers and party militants in attacks on the opposition meant to ensure he defeats Tsvangirai.
The opposition says more than 70 of its activists have been killed, and the international community has become so concerned at the violence that some leaders have suggested the runoff be canceled.
The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights said Friday it recorded 85 deaths in political violence since the first round of voting.