Zimbabweans 'flee election unrest'

Opposition appeals for international intervention amid reports of rising violence.

    State-owned Zimbabwe media said that the recount in 23 constituencies would take three days [AFP]


    The results of the parliamentary election, which was lost by the ruling Zanu-PF party of Robert Mugabe, the president, are being recounted in 23 constituencies.

    Homes burnt

    Biti said that 3,000 families had been displaced by the violence, houses had been burnt and many people had fled the country.
    "Ten people have so far been killed in Zimbabwe since March 29," he said.
    "More than 400 of our activists have been detained. At least 500 have been hospitalised."

    The opposition released a detailed list of its supporters who it said had been injured and killed since the elections, saying many of them had their homes destroyed by supporters of the ruling party.

    New York-based Human Rights Watch said on Saturday that "torture and violence are surging in Zimbabwe".
    Wayne Bvudzijena, a police spokesman, confirmed one death, saying police were still investigating.
    AU action 
    The claims came as the African Union (AU) urged Zimbabwe to release results of its disputed elections immediately.
    The AU, meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa said that releasing the results would ease tensions that many fear could trigger bloodshed and deepen economic despair.
    "The African Union wishes to express its concern over the delay observed in the announcement of Zimbabwe election, which creates an atmosphere of tension," the 53-member body said in a statement.
    "The African Union, therefore, urges competent authorities of the Republic of Zimbabwe to announce the results without any further delay, in transparency, thus ... reducing the prevailing tension."

    International pressure has been mounting on African leaders to take more decisive action to help end the political stalemate in Zimbabwe.

    Parliamentary recount

    The partial recount of parliamentary votes began on Saturday despite opposition efforts to block it. The state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation has said the full recount would take up to three days.
    "It's an illegal recount. The aim of the recount is an attempt to reverse the gains of the MDC by making sure some of those seats are returned to Zanu-PF"

    Morgan Tsvangirai,
    MDC leader

    Opposition supporters fear that it could overturn the results which showed Mugabe's Zanu-PF losing its majority to the MDC for the first time.
    Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the MDC who claims to have won the election, told Al Jazeera that the ongoing partial recount was "illegal".
    "It's an illegal recount. The aim of the recount is an attempt to reverse the gains of the MDC by making sure some of those seats are returned to Zanu-PF," he said.

    "We believe that those results should be discounted because the ZEC has been discredited.

    "However, as far as we are concerned, we have won the election, the people of Zimbabwe have spoken, and their vote must be respected."

    Presidential vote

    Zanu-PF says that neither Mugabe nor Tsvangirai won over 50 per cent of the vote needed to win the presidency.

    The party has declared that there will be a run-off presidential election with Mugabe as its candidate.

    During celebrations to mark Zimbabwe's 28th anniversary of independence from Britain on Friday, Mugabe did not mention the election outcome or whether he would stand in a run-off.

    But he criticised Britain, saying it had bribed voters to mark their ballots for the MDC.

    "Through money as a weapon, [the British] literally buy some of our people to turn against their government, and accept to be politically manipulated in abandoning their rights," he said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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