LONDON — It will take a while yet, but the long and brutal reign of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe is probably nearing its end. Not because of the democratic opposition at home, whose members are regularly beaten up and sometimes killed by the regime’s police. Not even because neighboring countries in southern Africa are at last putting pressure on Mugabe to go. Just because his own partners-in-crime have decided that it’s him or them.

The key moment actually came last December, when for the first time the senior ranks of the ruling Zanu-PF Party stood up to Mugabe and refused to accept his proposal to postpone the next presidential election from 2008 to 2010. It was typical Mugabe salami tactics — give me two more years, and maybe I’ll decide to resign in 2010 — but this time it didn’t work.

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