Opposition cries foul as ruling party scoops votes in Zimbabwe

March 31st, 2008 - 6:21 pm ICT by admin  

Johannesburg/Harare, March 31 (DPA) Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was crying foul Monday as election results trickling down showed President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party and the MDC running almost neck and neck. The country held combined presidential, parliamentary and local elections Saturday.

With 25 of 210 seats of the parliamentary assembly counted, the MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, had taken 13 seats to Zanu-PF’s 12, the state-controlled Zimbabwe Election Commission announced.

Among the casualties in the Zanu-PF was Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who was defeated in his rural eastern constituency.

“There’s not doubt there’s some kind of effort underway to modify the result,” Eddie Cross, an MDC lawmaker, who retained his seat with 58 per cent of the vote in his constituency in the city of Bulawayo, told DPA.

The results of the vote, in which authoritarian ruler Mugabe, 84, faces an unprecedented challenge to his 28-year hold on power, were issued at a snail’s pace, fuelling speculation in MDC ranks of attempts to “cook” the result in Mugabe’s favour.

Fearing vote rigging, the MDC had rushed to unilaterally claim victory shortly after the close of the polls in the early hours of Sunday based on unofficial, partial results. “We have won this election,” the party’s secretary-general Tendai Biti said.

The delay in the release of the results has caused consternation in Zimbabwe.

“It’s too slow. We’re very concerned with the speed,” Noel Kututwa of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) told DPA.

The results being announced by ZEC “fly in the face of what we’ve been getting,” Chris Shepherd, a campaigner with the MDC said in Harare. “He (Tsvangirai) needs to make a statement.”

Unconfirmed results posted on polling station doors had shown the MDC sweeping Harare and Bulawayo, the country’s second largest city. It was showing strongly in some rural areas previously considered ruling party strongholds.

In remarks carried in the state-owned paper Sunday Mail, government spokesman George Charamba, called the MDC’s unilateral victory claim tantamount to a coup d’etat.

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