Is Mugabe - Finally - On his Way Out?

This piece in the TimesOnline seems to indicate that thanks to tremendous pressure from the west, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's closest ally has deserted him and has given him an ultimatum: Leave office or be arrested and tried for the crimes you have committed the last 28 years:

THE president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, has been warned by Thabo Mbeki, the South African president, that he faces prosecution for the crimes he has committed during his 28 years in office unless he signs a deal to give up all effective power.

Mbeki, who has done all he can to shield and support Mugabe for the past eight years, has come under overwhelming western pressure and has had to tell Mugabe that he could no longer protect him and his key cronies from being charged by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The power-sharing talks between Mugabe's Zanu-PF and Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are shrouded in secrecy. But The Sunday Times has learnt that Mugabe, who has vowed that Tsvangirai will never be in government and that "only God can remove me from power", faces humiliation over the terms of the deal that he will be forced to sign next month.

He will remain as president in name only and all real power will be held by a 20-member cabinet under Tsvangirai as prime minister. The opposition MDC will have 11 cabinet posts to nine for Mugabe's Zanu-PF.

The TimeOnline has the full story of how all this came about - and warn that even with this humiliation staring him in the face, Mugabe may yet balk at any terms he reaches with Mr. Tsvangirai.

Waiting in the wings are western nations to pump some desperately needed foreign aid into the country to help alleviate the 80% unemployment and 200,000% inflation.

But they won't lift a finger to help Mugabe. And South Africa's Mbeki - who has enabled this crook and thug in his efforts to bludgeon his way back to power - should lose some stature with the west given his reluctance to lead African nations themselves to removing Mugabe.

The next move is Mugabe's. Given his stranglehold on power, he must be convinced that he will in fact be prosecuted unless he gives up power.