Former Zimbabwean presidential candidate Simba Makoni on Thursday joined a rising chorus of voices calling for the ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change to call off a June 17 presidential run-off election and forge a government of national unity to avoid further political bloodshed.
The proposal from Makoni, a former ZANU-PF finance minister who placed third in the March 29 first round of the presidential ballot, said that not only is violence on the rise and likely to surge further towards the election, but that the country cannot afford to hold another presidential election when the mass of its population is destitute.
"The country does not need another election at this time," he told reporters. "Besides, the violence now gripping the country bodes ill for a free and fair election."
Makoni declined to endorse one candidate or the other. President Robert Mugabe is facing MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai, who was the frontrunner in the first round of the election with an official 49.7% of ballots compared with Mugabe's 43.2%.
Correspondent Thomas Chiripasi reported on Makoni's Harare news conference.
Meanwhile, former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan said the MDC should be willing to work with ZANU-PF even if Tsvangirai defeats Mugabe in the run-off.
Annan told CNN that whatever the outcome, the Southern African Development Community should ensure that there is dialogue.
"President Mugabe and his party have run Zimbabwe for 28 years," Annan said. "The opposition has not had a chance to govern because alternates that you expect in democracy have not happened and so it is extremely difficult," he said.
"Whether the opposition wins they will have to find a way to live with ZANU-PF who have controlled the levers of power for so long," Annan said. "There is concern that whatever the outcome of the election there is need for dialogue, there is need for mediation between the two groups regardless of who wins."
The former U.N. chief warned that the Zimbabwean crisis could spread though the region. He praised SADC for trying to resolve the crisis but urged it to do more.
Secretary General Tendai Biti of the Tsvangirai MDC formation said it would be better to bypass the run-off entirely, adding that dialogue must start now.
South African-based political analyst Glen Mpani, also a regional coordinator for the transitional justice program at the Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation in Cape Town, said Annan’s advice could point the way forward.
More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...