Mugabe rival calls recount illegal

MDC chief Morgan Tsvangirai says poll recount intended to reverse his party's gains.

    Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition, says he is the clear winner of the presidential election [AFP]
    Robert Mugabe, the incumbent president, has challenged the results in 22 constituencies, and if the results fall his way, his Zanu-PF party could retake control of parliament.
     
    The MDC is contesting the result of one seat.
     
    The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is set to begin recounting votes cast in 23 constituencies from 8am local time (0600 GMT) on Saturday, after a legal appeal by the MDC failed.

    The MDC regards the ZEC, whose leadership is appointed by the government, as a partisan body despite its nominal independent status.

    The parliamentary vote recounts were ordered after Mugabe's Zanu-PF party alleged irregularities in the counting process.

    'Gains overturned'
     
    "If there is a recount ... there is an illegal recount, that is taking place," Tsvangirai told Al Jazeera, reiterating that the MDC "won the election".

    "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.

    "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."

    'Rigging' allegations
     

    "We have no doubt ...  ballot boxes have been stuffed. Those ballot boxes have become pregnant and reproduced"

    Tendai Biti,
    MDC Secretary-General

    Zanu-PF lost in 21 of the 23 constituencies due to be examined and  hopes that a new count will enable it to retake control of the 210-seat assembly.

     

    The MDC currently has 109 seats against Zanu-PF's 97.

    "We, as a party, will not accept any recount in respect of parliamentary seats," Tendai Biti, MDC secretary-general, said.

    "We have no doubt on the insistence of a recount because ballot boxes have been stuffed.

    "Those ballot boxes have become pregnant and reproduced."

    Presidential vote

    Tsvangirai has already announced himself the victor over Mugabe in the presidential vote, saying that he won a majority on March 29.

    Protesters voiced concerns that Mugabe

    might
    use the weapons against his opponents [AFP]

    But 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.

    He instead 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.

    Chinese weapons

    A Chinese ship carrying a consignment of weapons bound for Zimbabwe is believed to be heading for Angola.

    The vessel first attempted to dock in South Africa, but a labour union refused to allow dockers to unload the goods in Durban on the grounds they believed the arms might be used against president Mugabe's opponents.

    A high court judge in South Africa ruled on Friday that the weapons could not be transported through the country into Zimbabwe.

    The ship then sailed north towards Mozambique, but the government barred it from its waters.

    Tsvangirai has alleged that Zanu-PF is preparing for a "war" against the people of Zimbabwe.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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