Zimbabwe poll panel says runoff vote needed(Second Lead)

May 2nd, 2008 - 10:26 pm ICT by admin  

Harare/Johannesburg, May 2 (DPA) Zimbabwe’s Election Commission said Friday neither President Robert Mugabe nor his main challenger Morgan Tsvangirai had won outright in the March 29 presidential election, meaning a runoff vote was needed. The commission said that while Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Tsvangirai had beaten Mugabe, he had won only 47.9 percent of the vote - not the 50 percent required for an outright win. Mugabe had won 43.2 percent of the vote.

The MDC had already warned it would reject the official results, and MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa later branded the result as “scandalous”.

The MDC accuses Mugabe supporters of rigging the vote and of launching a campaign of intimidation and violence following the elections 29 March.

The MDC has been insisting there is no need for a run-off. “This whole thing is a scandal, scandalous daylight robbery and everyone knows that,” Chamisa told the BBC.

“We won this election outright, and yet what we are being given here as the outcome are some fudged figures meant to save Mugabe and Zanu-PF.”

The US meanwhile sharpened its criticism of Mugabe’s regime five weeks after the disputed elections.

US State Department spokesman Tom Casey, in unusually sharp tones, called for an end to the violence against the opposition, indirectly signalling Washington’s desire to see Mugabe relinquish power.

The US has cast doubt on the credibility of the election results and said it was hard to see how a run-off could be fair because of state-orchestrated violence.

“President Mugabe must call off his dogs and cease his security services and his supporters’ attacks on those who are simply trying to express their views,” said Casey.

The human rights organization Lawyers for Human Rights reported learning of 150 teachers who were arrested allegedly favouring the opposition in their position as election monitors.

Lawyers for Human Rights opined that the government is making the way free by the arrests to turn over election monitor posts to the country’s security forces.

Meanwhile, the number of opposition supporters killed by Mugabe’s strike troops stood at 20, the MDC said, with rights group Human Rights Watch accusing Zimbabwe’s military of participating in the attacks.

In South Africa, the chairman of the ruling African National Congress party (ANC) Jacob Zuma, again distanced himself from Mugabe’s policies.

Zuma expressed concern over reports of physical attacks and human rights violations, saying that these all were “unacceptable”.

The South African leader also announced measures to limit the illegal entry into South African of Zimbabweans, whose numbers are estimated at up to three million. Zuma further warned after growing xenophobia in South Africa.

According to the daily The Star, a Chinese freighter loaded with weapons and munitions intended for Zimbabwe was in harbour in the Angolan capital Luanda. The vessel had been turned away from South African harbours through a boycott by harbour workers in favour of Zimbabwe’s opposition.

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