US Aims to Help Zimbabwe, Not Mugabe

Obama set to meet with Tsvangirai today
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jun 12, 2009 12:12 PM CDT
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe addresses the crowd during the country's 29th Independence celebrations, in Harare, ZImbabwe, Saturday, April 18, 2009. Mugabe, in power since 1980 called on Zimbabwe's...   (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
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(Newser) – With Zimbabwe’s prime minister visiting President Obama today, the key question is how the West can help Morgan Tsvangirai without boosting Robert Mugabe. Under the government's power-sharing agreement, the president retains control of the police, justice system, spy service, and media, writes Celia Dugger in the New York Times. “The choice is: Do you re-engage Robert Mugabe, or do you continue to alienate him?” Tsvangirai has said.

Tsvangirai says he’s not out to beg, but he’s "clearly" hoping for more Western aid for his struggling country, Dugger notes. “The government needs resources to fulfill its obligations,” he said, such as paying teachers and civil servants more than a pittance. At home, Tsvangirai is facing growing criticism for playing nice with Mugabe—but he’s still “seen as a savior,” said a political scientist.