Zimbabway’s ruling party says presidential run-off vote necessary

May 1st, 2008 - 9:07 pm ICT by admin  

Johannesburg/Harare, May 1 (DPA) President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF Thursday reportedly said a run-off was needed between him and his opponent Morgan Tsvangirai, as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission started verifying the results of the March 29 presidential election. Mugabe won 43 percent of the vote according to the report, carried on US news channel CNN.

The vote figure has yet to be confirmed officially, with the electoral commission saying Thursday that it would take three days to verify the presidential result.

A vote of over 50 percent is required under Zimbabwean law to win the presidential election outright and avoid a run-off vote.

Tsvangirai, whose Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party claimed 50.3 percent for its leader, actually achieved 47 percent, according to Zanu-PF.

Reacting angrily to the Zanu-PF’s reported call for a run-off vote, MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the Zanu-PF comments were a concerted attempt to spread false information.

“These are mischievous statistics to prepare people for a run-off which is not what people want,” Chamisa said.

Tsvangirai, meanwhile, told France 24 news channel: “Those are merely speculative figures to justify the position of a run-off by Zanu-PF. We won decisively. There is no need for a run-off. I had an outright victory. ZEC has been tampering with or massaging the results for a month.”

“ZEC published those results (at polling stations) and we collected them. They show we have a decisive victory. We can’t have a run-off when Mugabe over the past month has been dismantling our structures on the ground through violence.”

Tsvangirai stressed earlier that his party would not be taking part in a run-off vote.

Zimbabwean Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said that the ZEC had not yet published the official results of the presidential election.

She said she had ordered the candidates’ representatives to start the verification process of the vote-counting Thursday afternoon. The process would take at least three days, she said.

A partial recount of the parliamentary vote confirmed that the ruling Zanu-PF party had lost.

The post-election vacuum has been filled with brutal acts of violence committed by radical Mugabe supporters, according to human rights groups. The government also accuses the MDC of violence.

The state-run Herald newspaper reported that the police had arrested 10 MDC members in relation to post-election violence.

The paper said the opposition supporters had been arrested in Harare and in Bindura - about 80 km north of the capital - for crimes ranging from public violence, kidnapping, attempted murder to resisting arrest.

The same Herald edition featured a letter from police chief Augustine Chihuri accusing MDC secretary general Tendai Biti of “urging and abetting political violence”. Police were looking for Biti, the report said.

Biti, who told the media last month that the MDC had won the presidential election with a vote of 50.3 percent, has been out of the country for weeks.

Chihuri said the figures which Biti was quoting only added up to 49.1 percent of the vote for Tsvangirai.

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