Calls for calm in Zimbabwe as Mugabe triumphs

Mugabe rival Tsvangirai says his party is considering its options and that it could take to the streets to protest.

    Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe looked poised to win a seventh term as president after romping to victory in parliamentary polls dismissed as fraudulent by the opposition, as the head of the UN led calls for calm.

    Full results were expected later on Saturday but Mugabe's ZANU-PF party said it had already won the 140 seats in parliament required to press ahead with controversial amendments to the constitution.

    "We have already gone beyond two-thirds. It's a super majority," a top party official told the AFP news agency.

    Mugabe's rival and prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, has called the poll a "huge farce", amid allegations of electoral irregularities and manipulation.

    Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said it could take to the streets to challenge the result if the 89-year-old leader and his party won the vote.

    UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged both rivals to send "clear messages of calm" to supporters as tensions mount.

    Ban hopes that the broadly "calm and peaceful atmosphere" of election day  "will prevail during the vote counting and throughout the completion of the  electoral process," said his spokesman Martin Nesirky.

    The influential 15-member southern African bloc SADC also implored "all Zimbabweans to exercise restraint, patience and calm".

    The African Union (AU) observer mission chief declared Zimbabwe's elections as "fairly fair" and credible, while observers from SADC praised them for being free and peaceful.

    The AU said it was reserving judgment on whether the elections were systematically flawed until details of the vote were clarified. SADC added that it was too early to declare the election fair.

    However, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who heads the AU's vote monitoring mission, said on Friday that flaws in the electoral process had not stopped the will of the people from being expressed.

    "We justified that by the process which led to the election itself - it was free," he said.

    Independent assessors had found a bias in Zimbabwe's media and said that 99.97 percent of rural voters were registered, while 67.94 percent of urban voters made it to the voters' roll.

    However, Obasanjo told Al Jazeera that the AU had a team in Zimbabwe for the election campaign from June 15 and that it had found that anyone who wanted to register had registered.

    But the mission is asking election authorities in Zimbabwe to investigate reports that large numbers of eligible voters were turned away from polling stations.


    Tsvangirai said on Thursday that the elections' credibility had been marred by administrative and legal violations.

    His comments came on the heels of remarks made by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a coalition of local non-government organisations monitoring elections in the country, which earlier described Wednesday's vote as "seriously compromised".

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

    The mood on the streets of the capital Harare was subdued on Friday as the MDC's top leadership met at its headquarters to chart their next move, with everything from a legal challenge to the threatened street protests on the table.

    "Demonstrations and mass action are options," party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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