Zimbabwe PM calls vote a 'huge farce'

Mugabe rival Tsvangirai's criticism follows poll watchdog's finding that urban voters in his stronghold were rejected.

    Zimbabwe PM calls vote a 'huge farce'
    Tsvangirai has said that an illegitimate result will plunge the southern African country into a crisis [Reuters]

    Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's prime minister, has called the southern African country's elections a "huge farce", one day after his latest attempt to end President Robert Mugabe's 33-year rule.

    The Movement For Democratic Change presidential candidate told a press conference on Thursday that the election was heavily manipulated and did not meet regional or African election standards.

    "The shoddy manner in which it has been conducted and the consequent illegitimacy of the result will plunge this country into a serious crisis," Tsvangirai said.

    "Its credibility has been marred by administrative and legal violations which affect the legitimacy of its outcome," Tsvangirai said.

    "It is a sham election that does not reflect the will of the people."

    The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a coalition of local non-government organisations monitoring elections in the country, had earlier described Wednesday's election as "seriously compromised".

    "Up to a million voters were disenfranchised," Solomon Zwana, the chairman of ZESN, told a press conference on Thursday.

    Zanu-PF dismisses fraud claims

    Though there were no major incidents of violence reported on Wednesday, Zwana said the peaceful process was merely a facade over the fraudulent activities taking place behind the scenes.

    In response, Zanu-PF's spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, dismissed all claims of a flawed poll by the non-government organisation and the coalition.

    "What do you expect from the Zimbabwe Election Support Network anyway? They are sponsored by the Americans and the British to destabilise our elections. As you could see for yourself, yesterday's election was peaceful," Rugare told Al Jazeera.

    Responding to a report by the Reuters news agency on Thursday morning that cited an unnamed ZANU-PF official who claimed Mugabe had defeated Tsvangirai in Wednesday's election, Gumbo said results would come from the party itself. 

    "I am the the national party spokesperson and I haven't said anything about election results. It's all hogwash," he said.

    "If it doesn't come out of my mouth, it is not credible."

    'Minor logistical problems' 

    Late on Wednesday evening, MDC spokeperson told Al Jazeera the party was relatively pleased with the day's proceedings. He said they would hold a news conference on Thursday to address further concerns surrounding the polls.

    Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, head of the African Union observer mission, also told media on Wednesday night that he considered the elections provisionally “free and fair".

    "From what I saw, and the reports that I’ve received so far from our observers who went out in the field, the conduct of the elections everywhere they went to was peaceful, orderly and free and fair," Obasanjo said.

    Rita Makarau, chairwoman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), conceded "a few minor logistical problems" where voting started slowly, and appealed to people to put forward any evidence of voting irregularities.

    The ZEC had said that it would hold a briefing on Thursday but cancelled it and instead issued a statement, said Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa, reporting from Harare.

    ZEC officials said they were "still counting the votes and that they are the only one who can officially announce that anyone has won or lost", said our correspondent.

    "Officially Tsvangirai hasn't spoken to his supporters. He hasn't said whether he is actually accepting defeat or not.

    "That's creating a lot of concern on the ground ... Until he comes out tells his people what the next way forward is, people will continue to speculate and quietly worry abotut what the future holds," she said. 

    Tensions were rising as parties made conflicting claims over the credibility of the elections and provisional results amid reports the MDC had lost wards inside Harare itself, a traditional stronghold of the party.

    The City Press newspaper in neighbouring South Africa reported ZANU-PF supporters were seen celebrating victory in the improverished southern suburb of Mbare.

    Wednesday's elections brought to an end an uncomfortable power-sharing government following the disputed election of 2008 that resulted in over 200 deaths.

    Turnout to Wednesday's elections across the country was high, especially in urban areas though most agree the fight for Zimbabwe will take place in the country's rural areas.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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