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Africa
Zimbabwe recount demand decried
Opposition says ruling party's bid to delay presidential vote result is "illegal".
Last Modified: 06 Apr 2008 13:49 GMT

Mugabe's party says he will win a second
round run-off [AFP]

Eight days after Zimbabweans went to the polls to choose a new president, and with no results yet on presidential elections, the opposition has rejected a demand by the ruling Zanu-PF party for a recount of votes.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by Morgan Tsvangirai, says eight days is long enough for a proper count and the election commission should be ordered to make an offical announcement. 
A high court in Harere has been asked to unlock the truth of Zimbabwe's elections. A judge is about to hear an opposition call for the results finally to be released.
 
The state-run Sunday Mail said "Zanu-PF has requested the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to recount and audit all its electoral material ... following revelations of errors and miscalculations in the compilation of the poll result".
 
"Consequent to the anomalies, the party has also requested that the commission defer the announcement of the presidential election result."
 
But Nelson Chamisa, the MDC's chief spokesman, said on Sunday that Zanu-PF's demand for a recount was "illegal" and "impractical".

Opposition petition

The opposition petition was due to be heard by the court on Saturday but was postponed until Sunday.

The MDC has said that if the electoral commission is forced to present the results of the March 29 poll they will show that their candidate Morgan Tsvangirai was the winner. 
Tsvangirai said on Saturday that he was the clear winner over Robert Mugabe, the current president and leader of Zanu-PF, and there was no need for a second round run-off.

"The result is known that the MDC won the presidential and parliamentary election," he told reporters.

"President Mugabe and Zanu-PF should accept the results. The MDC won the election and will not accept the suppression of the will of the people."

Zanu-PF has said that there is no chance that the opposition leader won an outright victory and confirmed that Mugabe would stand in any run-off.

The electoral commission is yet to announce any results from the presidential vote and the opposition has repeatedly accused the ruling party of rigging the election.
Zanu-PF has said it is planning to contest 16 or more parliamentary seats, claiming that the MDC bribed electoral officials.

'Preparing a war'

Tsvangirai also accused Mugabe's party of planning to do all they could to keep the 84-year-old president in power.

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"Zanu-PF is preparing a war against the people of Zimbabwe," he said.

Patrick Chinamasa, Zanu-PF spokesman, dismissed the allegation saying: "We are a peace-loving party and the people of Zimbabwe will not forgive anyone who foments violence."

State television reported that Mugabe supporters seized one of the country's few remaining white-owned farms in reaction to reports that whites were returning to reoccupy their land.

The incident came after the country's so-called war veterans - many of whom were born after independence in 1980 - vowed to occupy all the remaining white-owned farms in Masvingo province.

Mugabe has signalled that he is willing to enter
into a run-off vote for the presidency [AFP]
George Shire, a political analyst based in London, told Al Jazeera that the veterans position was "not an empty threat".
 
"The land issue is the central emotive conflictual issue in Zimbabwean politics ... It is something that has dominated for the last century and which has influenced government ideologies," he said.

"This is not something that happened centuries ago - these are people who have lost their families, lost their relatives, lost their friends in a war about land."

In a separate article in the Sunday Mail it was reported that Zanu-PF had rejected an offer to form a unity government with the MDC. 

"Approaches were made by [the MDC] to form a government of national unity. Although it is unclear in what capacity the emissaries came, Zanu-PF rejected the approaches, and this was communicated to the MDC," the newspaper quoted Chinamasa as saying.
 
But the MDC said a unity government was never discussed.
Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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