Zimbabwe’s opposition rejects presidential run-off

May 4th, 2008 - 12:29 am ICT by admin  

Harare, May 3 (DPA) The opposition in Zimbabwe Saturday said it would not participate in a presidential run-off claiming it won the March 29 poll with an outright majority. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced Friday that there would be a run-off between President Robert Mugabe of the ruling Zanu-PF and Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) at a date to be announced.

MDC vice-president Thokozani Khupe told the media that the ZEC had not done the verification process of the results properly. “We need to be convinced that there is need for a run-off,” said Khupe.

“Why should we go for a run-off when we won this election? We call upon (the regional group, Southern African Development Community) to assist in the verification of the results as we feel that ZEC is in violation of the SADC resolutions,” she added.

The ZEC said Friday the long-delayed results showed Tsvangirai was the top vote-getter with 47.9 percent, beating Mugabe’s 43.2 percent. As neither candidate garnered more than 50 percent of the vote, a run-off must be held within 21 days under Zimbabwe’s electoral laws.

Opposition leaders denounced government demands for a run-off election as “grand theft”.

The MDC insists it won the 50 percent required for an outright win. MDC secretary general Tendai Biti charged that the commission used the month-long delay to manipulate almost 90,000 votes by adding more than 37,000 votes to Mugabe and removing 50,000 votes from Tsvangirai.

The British and US governments said the results announced Friday lacked “credibility”.

Mugabe has been president for nearly three decades. The results marked the first time in several controversial elections that the official election organisation conceded more votes to a Mugabe challenger.

Khupe reiterated her party’s claims that Zanu-PF had engaged army and militia to cause violence on her party supporters. She said 20 people had been killed while 5,000 families had been displaced.

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