Hundreds welcome Zimbabwe opposition leader’s body

Supporters of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) attend a memorial service to mourn the passing of former Prime Minister and Morgan Tsvangirai in Bulawayo on Feb. 17, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 17 February 2018
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Hundreds welcome Zimbabwe opposition leader’s body

HARARE: Hundreds thronged Zimbabwe’s main airport Saturday as the body of opposition icon Morgan Tsvangirai, who died of cancer in neighboring South Africa, arrived home for burial.
Tsvangirai, a fearless opponent to the ruling ZANU-PF party, died on Wednesday at the age of 65 after a lengthy battle with colon cancer.
Supporters and officials from his Movement for Democratic Change party, gathered at Robert Mugabe International Airport, broke into Christian hymns and party songs as the plane bearing his remains landed.
“We have received the body of our president, our hero, our icon, our patriot and great leader,” said one of Tsvangirai’s three deputies Nelson Chamisa.
The body was taken to a military camp where the bodies of national heroes lie in state before burial.
Tsvangirai will be buried on Tuesday in his rural home in Buhera, 250 kilometers (150 miles) south of Harare.
Opposition compatriots earlier held memorial services in the capital Harare and in the second city of Bulawayo to honor Tsvangirai who was often derided by former president Robert Mugabe as “a stooge of the west.”
In Bulawayo, Tsvangirai’s former deputy Welshman Ncube praised Tsvangirai for forgiving even his persecutors in government who beat him up.
“He had no bitterness at all, no bitterness that over the years they vilified him, arrested him, beat him and laid treason charges against him,” Ncube said. “He was selfless.”
He said Tsvangirai called him to his house in January and hinted that he would not live to see the country’s upcoming elections expected by July this year.
“The meeting was very emotional. He said ‘Let us be realistic. I won’t make it. I won’t be with you in this campaign’.” The election is the first to held without Robert Mugabe in nearly four decades.
Tsvangirai was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016.
The former trade union stalwart led the MDC since its formation in 1999, posing the most formidable challenge to ZANU-PF’s nearly four-decade rule.
In 2008, he beat long-time ruler Mugabe in the first round of presidential elections, narrowly come short of garnering enough votes to be declared outright winner.
However he then pulled out of the second round of voting, which was marred by violence including the killing of around 200 opposition supporters.
Tsvangirai’s death came as tensions over his succession are threatening to tear the MDC apart handing an advantage to President Emmerson Mnangagwa who took over from Mugabe following a military takeover in November.


Duterte ‘seriously considering’ cutting ties with Iceland over UN rights probe

Updated 16 July 2019
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Duterte ‘seriously considering’ cutting ties with Iceland over UN rights probe

  • Iceland spearheaded a resolution that asked the UN’s top human rights body to look into the Philippines' deadly anti-drug crackdown
  • Philippine police have killed more than 6,600 suspected drug dealers in sting operations since Duterte took office in 2016.

MANILA: The Philippine president is “seriously considering” cutting diplomatic ties with Iceland, which spearheaded a resolution that asked the UN’s top human rights body to look into the thousands of deaths of suspects under his anti-drug crackdown.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters late Monday that the Iceland-initiated resolution which was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in a vote last week in Geneva showed “how the Western powers are scornful of our sovereign exercise of protecting our people from the scourge of prohibited drugs.”
Panelo says President Rodrigo Duterte “is seriously considering cutting diplomatic relations with Iceland” for initiating the “grotesquely one-sided, outrageously narrow, and maliciously partisan” resolution.
Human rights groups, however, have lauded the resolution as crucial to helping end the drug killings and bringing perpetrators to justice.
The Philippines’ highest-ranking lawmaker said on Monday a UN resolution to probe the country’s bloody war on drugs should be ignored, and its chief backer Iceland be investigated instead for human rights abuses in allowing abortion.
“They have more unborn babies that they have aborted or killed. There are more killings in abortion than the drug pushers who are fighting the police,” Senate President Vicente Sotto told ANC news channel.
The Nordic nation lacks moral grounds to lecture the Philippines on human rights, Sotto said. “So we should disregard that resolution.”
His remarks are the latest in a series of comments from lawmakers urging the government to not cooperate after the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday adopted Iceland’s resolution to investigate thousands of deaths under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign.
Police have killed more than 6,600 suspected drug dealers in sting operations since Duterte took office in 2016. Critics and rights group said authorities summarily execute suspects, which the police deny.
“The criminals can fight back, the babies cannot. What human rights are they talking about?” Sotto said, adding that drug dealers that fight back and destroy families lose their human rights.
His comments about abortion echoed those made by incoming Senator Imee Marcos, the daughter of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Rights groups, which hailed the UN vote as a step toward accountability, point out that the bloody anti-narcotics campaign is marked by systematic cover-ups, planted evidence and impunity.
The president’s spokesman on Monday warned countries not to meddle with the state’s affairs.
“All incidents in the war on drugs are tallied, recorded. All they have to do is ask us, not to pre-judge us,” presidential spokesman Spokesman Panelo told a regular news conference. “It behoves them to render respect to a sovereign state.”
Duterte on Friday mocked Iceland as an ice-eating nation without understanding of his country’s problems.