Mugabe to fight on amid new calls for his exit

April 4th, 2008 - 1:01 am ICT by admin  

Johannesburg/Harare, April 3 (DPA) A Zimbabwean government spokesman Thursday vowed that embattled President Robert Mugabe would fight tooth and nail to retain the presidency despite his Zanu-PF party’s defeat in parliamentary elections and growing calls for him to step down. “President Mugabe is going to fight to the last,” Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga told the BBC in an interview.

Mugabe himself made his first public appearance since casting vote Saturday, appearing relaxed as he thanked departing African Union observers for monitoring the elections, in a soundless broadcast.

Five days after Saturday’s combined presidential, parliamentary and local elections Zimbabweans are still waiting for results from the crunch presidential vote that could end Mugabe’s 28-year rule.

Analysts have predicted a stinging defeat for Mugabe at the hands of opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai, following his Zanu-PF’s rout in the parliamentary vote.

The MDC has already declared Tsvangirai victorious claiming 50.3 percent of the vote in their own count of the votes.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) had said it would issue all results by Friday although the chairman of the Pan-African Parliament observer mission Marwick Khumalo said Thursday the outcome might not be known before Saturday or “a few more days”.

Mugabe has been under international pressure to concede defeat, based on the outcome of the parliamentary elections.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the results of the House of Assembly vote had shown the Zimbabweans wanted change and urged those in power to accept the outcome of the elections.

“Zimbabwe has the chance to make a fresh start. The people of Zimbabwe rightfully expect this to be grasped,” he said.

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu called for Mugabe to step down “with dignity, gracefully”.

Matonga said while the ruling party was defeated in the assembly vote it won more votes than Tsvangirai’s larger of two MDC factions.

This, Matonga says, points to a second round between Tsvangirai and Mugabe, which the constitution calls for if no candidate takes more than 50 percent of the vote plus one ballot.

In the event of Mugabe and Tsvangirai facing off in a second round “we won’t be caught napping,” he vowed. “We will win.”

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