Year in Review, 2008
2008 news of the world from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe
Conditions Deteriorate in Afghanistan | India Rocked By a Wave of Terrorist Attacks | Iraq on the Path Toward Effective Leadership | Hopes Are Dashed for Peace Between Israelis and Palestinians Under the Bush Administration | Kosovo Declares Independence | North Korea Continues Roller Coaster Diplomacy | Changing of the Guard in Pakistan | Putin Retains Power | Russian-Georgian Conflict | Turmoil Within South Africa's Ruling Party
Elections Fail to Bring Change or Hope to Zimbabwe
If it's possible, the quality of life deteriorated further in Zimbabwe in 2008. Zimbabweans, clearly fed up with the economic collapse and the lack of available necessities, expressed their anger at the polls in March 2008's presidential and parliamentary elections. Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, defeated the 84-year-old president, Robert Mugabe, 47.9% to 43.2%. Because neither candidate received a majority, a runoff election was necessary.
Campaign of Violence Against the Opposition
After the initial election, supporters of Mugabe began a brutal campaign of violence against the opposition. Tsvangirai fled the country, fearing assassination. In the lead-up to the runoff election, police intensified their crackdown on Tsvangirai and members of his party. Tsvangirai withdrew from the race in June, saying he could not subject his supporters to violence and intimidation. He also said he refused to take part in "this violent, illegitimate sham of an election process." Mugabe was elected to a sixth term, taking 85% of the vote. International outrage followed, and Mugabe and Tsvangirai agreed to a power-sharing deal in September that called on the leaders to share executive authority, with Mugabe as president and Tsvangirai as prime minister. Negotiations over control of the country's ministries dragged on for the remainder of 2008 without resolution, stalling the implementation of the agreement.
As if life weren't unbearable enough in Zimbabwe, with its residents facing hunger, empty store shelves, a nonexistent health system, rampant unemployment, inflation a staggering 231 million percent, and the obvious political instability, a cholera epidemic broke out in August 2008. At least 800 people died from the disease by the end of the year, and another 12,000 were infected.
For more about Zimbabwe:
- More from 2008 News of the World