June 10 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's June 27 presidential run-off election should be called off because a free and fair vote is impossible, ruling ZANU-PF party defector Simba Makoni said on Tuesday.
Makoni, who challenged President Robert Mugabe in disputed March elections, said opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai must negotiate a transitional government to rule for five years.
The second round follows a disputed March 29 election in which official results showed Tsvangirai beat Mugabe, but not by enough votes to avoid a run-off.
Below are answers to some questions on the vote:
WILL THE RUN-OFF ELECTION BE CALLED OFF?
Makoni's comment followed a similar call by U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, which said normal campaigning is impossible due to what it called a brutal intimidation and murder campaign by Mugabe's supporters.
The MDC has said intimidation and violence make campaigning increasingly difficult but it will continue to lobby voters ahead of the June 27 run-off.
Despite saying it will contest the run-off vote, the MDC has insisted that it was not necessary because Tsvangirai won convincingly the first time around.
WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE CAMPAIGN?
Since Tsvangirai returned to Zimbabwe on May 24, he has been detained twice by police while on the campaign trial. Police banned MDC rallies and U.S. and British diplomats were attacked and detained for several hours.
The police ban on rallies has since been overturned by the High Court but the MDC says state-backed violence continues.
Mugabe says he will not allow what he says is a Western-backed opposition party to come to power, dubbing Tsvangirai a British puppet.
HOW FAIR WILL THE VOTE BE?
Tsvangirai's MDC, civic groups, regional bloc SADC and international human rights groups have said post-election violence in Zimbabwe has created conditions making it difficult for a free and fair run-off vote.
The opposition party says over 60 of its members have been killed, while thousands of homes have been destroyed. Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party blame violence on the opposition.
U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said a brutal campaign by Mugabe's supporters had eliminated any chance of a fair vote.
Some ZANU-PF officials and security chiefs are reported to have joined calls for the violence to stop, but it is unclear whether that will have much effect ahead of the vote.
Civic groups say political violence will lead to another disputed election. There are also signs the opposition might not enjoy the unprecedented exposure in state media it had before the March 29 poll.
WILL WESTERN POLL OBSERVERS BE ALLOWED IN?
The Zimbabwe government has maintained its position that no Western observers would be invited for the poll.
Regional group SADC has said it could send more observers for the run-off than it did for the first round. Its first monitors are due in Zimbabwe this week.
The United States and European Union said they plan a joint call for U.N. monitors to be sent.
WHO WOULD WIN A RUN-OFF?
On the face of it, Tsvangirai would appear to be in a dominant position to win a fair election. However, the climate of violence and intimidation will make this difficult and could allow Mugabe to extend his 28-year-rule.
WHAT IF MUGABE STAYS IN POWER?
Zimbabwe's economic crisis is likely to worsen and analysts say there will be few prospects of serious political change.
Limited Western sanctions have failed to weaken Mugabe and he is likely to tighten his grip on power by purging opponents within and outside his party.
ZANU-PF lost control of parliament to the opposition for the first time in a parallel vote on March 29. This will make it more difficult for Mugabe to govern and a minority ZANU-PF cabinet would face problems passing legislation.
The opposition does not have the two-thirds majority needed to impeach the president or change the constitution.
WHAT IF TSVANGIRAI WINS?
Analysts say the end of Mugabe's rule would probably bring badly needed international aid. The U.S. ambassador has said Zimbabweans should expect a package worth billions of dollars if a democratic government that embraces free markets is formed.
Tsvangirai has spoken in broad terms about creating conditions for foreign investment of $10 billion. He has not spelled out how he would ease Zimbabwe's economic crisis-- marked by severe shortages of basic goods and the world's highest inflation rate of 165,000 percent. Independent analysts believe the inflation rate is closer to 1.8 million percent.
WHAT IF THERE IS PROLONGED POLITICAL DEADLOCK?
Zimbabwe could slip at least briefly into the kind of violence that affected Kenya after the disputed December election, although Mugabe's security forces are likely to quickly end unrest.
Talk has been floated of a possible national unity government as a way out of the crisis, but each side would insist on leading such an administration. (Reporting by Harare bureau)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.