17 June 2008 – The British Government will call for Zimbabwe’s power supplies to be cut off if president Robert Mugabe rigs the election, it emerged. Diplomats and allies are urging South Africa to block electricity lines to the country amid fears Mr Mugabe will cling to office.

The 84-year-old ruler has threatened violence if the opposition party wins the election run-off on 27 June.

He warned last week that supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party will take up arms to stop the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) taking over.

Some of Zimbabwe’s electricity comes from South Africa and diplomats believe they might be able to persuade the South African government to restrict or turn off the supply. Vital imports also come through Mozambique and South Africa. One diplomat said: ‘One way or another, this summer is likely to mark the endgame for Robert Mugabe.’

A third of Zimbabwe’s four million people are reliant on food aid yet the regime has banned relief organisations from distributing supplies.

Political violence has spread from the countryside to urban areas around the capital Harare. Some opposition supporters today complained of being attacked in a township near the city.