Election a huge farce says rival
BRITAIN yesterday expressed concern as Zimbabwe’s prime minister rejected Zimbabwe’s election as a “huge farce”.
A British Foreign Office spokesman said the former colonial rulers were worried that Zimbabwe had not enacted important electoral reforms before Wednesday’s vote and by reports that many were unable to vote.
“We are also concerned by the late publication of the electoral roll. Any judgement on the credibility of elections will need to take these factors into account.”
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai called for the vote to be rejected because of vote-rigging by 89-year-old President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF party.
“This has been a huge farce,” he said at the headquarters of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). “In our view, that election is null and void.” He did not take questions, leaving it unclear whether he or his party would mount any kind of legal challenge.
The conflicting claims from the two main competing camps came before Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission had issued any official results, and raise the prospect of an acrimonious post-election dispute.
There are fears it could spill over into violence, as happened in 2008 when 200 MDC supporters were killed in the wake of a firstround defeat for Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980.
Wednesday’s poll was peaceful but the largest independent observer group said it was seriously compromised because of voter registration problems that may have disenfranchised up to a million people – a fifth of all Zimbabweans of voting age.
Releasing unofficial results early is illegal, and police said they would arrest anybody who did this. But a senior source in Mugabe’s party, who asked not to be named, told reporters less than 15 hours after the polls closed that the result was already clear.
“We’ve taken this election. We’ve buried the MDC. We never had any doubt that we were going to win,” the source said.
Western election observers were barred from entering the country. Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, head of an African Union monitoring team, said the polls appeared to be “peaceful, orderly and free and fair” – a stance sharply at odds with that of NGOs.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network said large numbers of people had been turned away from polling stations in MDC strongholds. It also cast doubt on the authenticity of the voters’ roll, noting that 99.97% in Mugabe’s rural strongholds were registered, against just 67.94% in the mostly pro-Tsvangirai urban areas. — Reuters