‘Grave concerns’ over Zimbabwe election

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SKY NEWS

There are serious questions over the credibility of President Mugabe’s landslide victory in Zimbabwe, says the British Foreign Secretary.

The UK government has “grave concerns” over how Zimbabwe’s election was carried out, Foreign Secretary William Hague has said.

President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party won a two-thirds majority in the vote and Mr Mugabe was also elected to a further five years in power, gaining 61% of the vote.

But Mr Hague said election observers had raised “significant concerns” of irregularities both leading up to the poll and on election day itself which “call into serious question the credibility of the election”.

The Foreign Secretary said there was no evidence that the roll of eligible voters was made available for all parties to scrutinise ahead of the vote.

He added: “We also have concerns over reports of large numbers of voters who were turned away, particularly in urban areas, the very high numbers of extra ballot papers that were printed and additional polling stations apparently added on Election Day itself.”

All allegations of electoral violations should be thoroughly investigated, Mr Hague said.

Zanu-PF seized 158 of 210 seats in the landslide victory, according to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s results from Wednesday’s parliamentary and presidential vote.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who got 34% of the vote, denounced the result as a “huge farce” and “sham”, and said there was massive vote rigging by Zanu-PF.

The European Union and the US have also raised serious concerns over reports of irregularities.

The verdict of the EU will be crucial in deciding whether it continues to ease sanctions on the south African country.

Zimbabwe elections
The election has been denounced as a “huge farce” and “sham”

In a statement, US Secretary of State John Kerry said: “The United States does not believe that the results announced today represent a credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people.”

After the results were announced, Prime Minister Mr Tsvangirai told a news conference in Harare that he totally rejects the election and would be launching a legal challenge and a boycott of Mr Mugabe’s government.

“We will not engage in institutions of government,” the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader added. “We will not join government.”

He added: “There is national mourning in the country…we will go to court.”

Sky’s special correspondent Alex Crawford, in Harare, said: “What became evident (from the news conference) is there are very few options open to him (Mr Tsvangirai).

“He said first of all he’s definitely going to court, also that he felt the judiciary was stacked against him, that some parts of the judiciary had actually been appointed four days before the election – he cast a lot of doubt on their impartiality.

“So he seemed to be indicating that he didn’t expect to get much from taking that judicial route. However, the routes open to the MDC are very few and far between at the moment.”

She said the two-thirds majority had left Mr Mugabe with “huge amounts of power” – enough to change the country’s laws and new constitution.

Earlier, a Zimbabwean election commissioner resigned over the way the vote was managed.

Mkhululi Nyathi’s departure from the nine-member Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is likely to add to the dispute both inside and outside the country.

“While throughout the whole process I retained some measure of hope that the integrity of the whole process could be salvaged along the way, this was not to be,” he said in a resignation letter seen by Reuters.

The vote passed off peacefully and received broad approval from African observers.

Mr Mugabe, 89, has governed the former British colony, then known as Rhodesia, since independence in 1980.

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