Zimbabwe opposition leader flees

Zimbabwe opposition leader Joshua Nkomo fled to neighboring Botswana, according to a statement from the office of that country's President, Quett Masire.

For months, the Zimbabwe government has accused Mr. Nkomo of encouraging dissident activity. Now that he has left the country, there are concerns those allegations will become self-fulfilling. There is already concern in Zimbabwe that some of the dissidents may be operating from bases in Botswana. Mr. Nkomo's presence is apt to kindle those fears further, Monitor Africa correspondent Paul Van Slambrouck reports.

Mr. Nkomo's whereabouts had been unknown for several days after a raid on his home in Bulawayo last weekend by government security forces. The cordoning and search of the area was part of a general security clampdown in southwestern Zimbabwe, where the dissidents have been most active. Western journalists have found the remains of victims of multiple killings in the area, but there were conflicting claims as to who was responsible. Locals blamed government troops, while the government charged that Army deserters opposed to the government dressed in government uniforms to carry out atrocities.

In Botswana, meanwhile, the statement announcing Mr. Nkomo's presence said he would work from there to try to resolve his country's situation. It added that he would be staying in Botswana only temporarily.

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