Mugabe's Zanu-PF wins first recount

Zimbabwe ruling party wins first of 23 constituencies in controversial recount.

    Unions and church groups have sought to prevent China's arms shipment from reaching Zimbabwe [AFP]
    The MDC was initially declared to have taken 109 seats against 97 for Zanu-PF in the 210-seat chamber, but Mugabe's party will regain its majority if it can reverse the results in seven or more of the seats under review.
    The recount also covers votes cast in a simultaneous presidential election in which Mugabe is seeking a sixth term in office.
    Haru Mutasa, Al Jazeera's correspondent in the capital Harare, said people in the country are becoming increasingly frustrated with the political wrangling over the election.
    "Many people have given up; they suspect Zanu-PF are going to end up winning," she said.
    "We are hearing a report that out in the rural areas people are being intimidated... the government has denied this, saying that those arrested are MDC supporters. There is a lot of confusion."
    Unity call


    Zimbabwe's state-run newspaper has urged regional countries to help Mugabe form a transitional government that can organise a fresh poll and write a new constitution.


    The Herald, traditionally close to Zanu-PF, said in an editorial posted on its website on Wednesday that prevailing political tensions made it impossible to hold a free and fair presidential run-off.

    "The current socio-economic environment in Zimbabwe is not conducive, and the country's political dynamics so distorted, that holding a free and fair election run-off in the immediate term is literally impossible," it said.
    The editorial follows repeated calls by Morgan Tsvangirai, head of the MDC, for regional governments to acknowledge his win in the March 29 elections.

    He has accused Mugabe of trying to rig victory by buying time to prepare for a possible run-off, which the MDC rejects.


    On Tuesday, Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general, urged African countries and the UN to intervene, saying the delay in publishing the results was unacceptable.


    Back to China 

    Meanwhile, a Chinese vessel loaded with weapons reportedly turned back to port after it was prevented from transporting its cargo overland to Zimbabwe across several southern African nations.


    Jiang Yu, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, said the shipment was part of "normal military product trade" between the two countries.


    "As far as I know, the carrier is now considering carrying back the cargo," she said on Tuesday.


    Zimbabwe's neighbours, powerful unions and church leaders united to bar the Chinese freighter An Yue Jiang from docking or offloading its cargo since last week, saying it could deepen the country's post-election crisis.

    Zanu-PF officials defended the arms shipment, saying the government did not need "clearance from anyone".


    The US state department, which sought to block the shipment, asked the Chinese government to recall the vessel and stop further weapons shipments until the political crisis is resolved.


    Tom Casey, the department's deputy spokesman, said it was the wrong time to add weapons or material when there were "real and visible instances of abuses committed by the security forces".


    "We're pleased to see that a number of countries in the region ... have decided not to let this ship either dock or offload," he said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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