Zimbabwe poll failed to represent people’s will: SADC

June 30th, 2008 - 3:03 am ICT by IANS  

Harare/Johannesburg, June 30 (DPA) A southern African election observer team said Zimbabwe’s one-man presidential election run-off that returned President Robert Mugabe as uncontested leader for a further five years Sunday “did not represent the will of the people of Zimbabwe.” After hours of wrangling over the wording of their statement, the 400-strong Southern African Development Community (SADC) observer team said: “The mission is of the view that the prevailing environment impinged on the credibility of the electoral process. The elections did not represent the will of the people of Zimbabwe.”

Earlier Mugabe, 84, was hastily sworn in for his sixth term as leader after a landslide victory in the second round of presidential elections that opposition Movement for Democratic (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai boycotted over attacks on his supporters.

Despite asking people not to vote for him Tsvangirai received over 230,000 votes after his name was left on the ballot, against a little over two million for Mugabe.

SADC mission chief Jose Marcos Barrica pointed to politically-motivated violence and intimidation, the disruption of opposition campaigning and one-sided media coverage in the run-up to Friday’s vote in concluding the poll lacked credibility.

“The process leading to the elections did not conform to SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic elections,” in a statement contrasting with its past endorsement of flawed Zimbabwean elections.

SADC teams had also reported being harassed in the course of their duties, he said.

“The mission strongly recommends that SADC mediation efforts should be continued in order to assist the people and leadership of Zimbabwe to resolve the problems they are facing and bring the country to normalcy,” said SADC, whose mediator in Zimbabwe, South African President Thabo Mbeki, is accused of pro-Mugabe bias by the MDC.

Barrica also gave a flavour of some of the tens of thousands of spoiled ballots cast by disgruntled Zimbabweans Friday.

“God bless this country”, “let there be free and fair elections” and “No to dictatorship”, some voters wrote on their ballots.

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