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Lord, how long will I call and You will not answer?

"Lord, how long will I call and You will not answer?" Continued...

Issue: "Home again," July 12, 2008

And pray for God's righteous judgment to come, for God to lift His powerful hand, for evil to be crushed, for those that dig a pit to fall into it, and those that spread a net to be caught up in it, that God will be seen to defend the defenseless and father the fatherless.

Please pray that God will hear, and that God will act. And that suffering will cease.

Dictatorship central

Africa is the place where old war heroes go to live on and on in office

By Mindy Belz

As African heads of state gathered in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh last week, one elected leader wasn't there: Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition figure who won a general election in Zimbabwe last March. On the agenda was a resolution calling for a power-sharing arrangement in Zimbabwe on the heels of Robert Mugabe's contested June 27 victory.

But this is Africa, and "elected" heads of state here tend to turn themselves into lifetime dictators. Out of 53 countries in the world's second-largest and second-most-populous continent, 19 heads of state have managed to keep themselves in office for over a decade. Thirteen of those have been in office 20 years or more. And the winner's circle for longest-serving leaders includes Libya's Muammar al-Gaddafi, who came to power in a 1969 coup; and Gabon's Omar Bongo, who became the world's youngest head of state at age 31 when Lyndon Johnson was president of the United States-and is now its longest serving.

In this crowded field of old men, Robert Mugabe's recent machinations to hold onto power look less conspicuous. Mugabe, 84, has three times arrested the popular Tsvangirai and last spring sealed election results for a month after it became clear the 56-year-old opposition leader had won at the polls.

In the unrest that followed, Mugabe, who won his first general election in 1980 as a Marxist war hero fighting the British in Rhodesia, was forced to call for the June runoff, but so much violence and rigging preceded the latest poll that Tsvangirai pulled out a week before and fled to the Dutch embassy in Harare, where he remained a refugee.

Tsvangirai couldn't be at the African Union meeting if he wanted to: Zimbabwean authorities haven't given back his passport since he turned it in earlier this year to have extra pages added. But a party strategist speaking on his behalf said the opposition in Zimbabwe hasn't given up: "If we get the African Union to condemn the June 27 election, that'd be good," he told The Times of London. "If we can get them to appoint a mediator, we'd be ecstatic. If we can get them to explicitly say they don't recognize the election, and Mugabe shouldn't even be there as Zimbabwe's leader, that'd be historic."

-with reporting by Kristin Chapman

a pastor from Harare
a pastor from Harare

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