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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
Zimbabwe poll free and peaceful say Obasanjo and SADC
Augsut 02, 2013
African Union mission
head Olusegun Obasanjo dismissed complaints of fraud, while another
observer urged all parties to "accept the hard facts".
A local monitoring
group said earlier the poll
was "seriously compromised".
President Robert Mugabe's
party is claiming victory in the election, which has been dismissed
by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as a "huge farce".
On Wednesday, voters
were choosing a president, 210 lawmakers and local councillors.
The results must be declared by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(Zec) no later than five days after voting day.
No presidential figures
have been announced but the first official results from national
assembly elections show that Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party is taking
an early lead. However, the seats announced were mostly in Mr Mugabe's
rural strongholds, correspondents say.
Zanu-PF spokesman Rugaro
Gumbo predicted that Mr Mugabe, 89, - who is running for a seventh
term - would get at least 70% of the vote in the presidential poll.
"We are expecting
a landslide victory," he was quoted as saying in Zimbabwe's
state-run Herald newspaper.
It is illegal to publish
unofficial election results in Zimbabwe. Police have warned they
would take action against anyone trying to leak early results.
Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have shared
an uneasy coalition
government since 2009 under a deal brokered to end the deadly
that erupted after a disputed presidential poll the previous
Speaking in the capital
Harare on Friday, Mr Obasanjo said the elections were fair and free
"from the campaigning point of view".
The former Nigerian president
admitted that there were "incidents that could have been avoided",
but he stressed that the 69 AU observers did not believe those irregularities
could change the overall outcome of the poll.
At the same time, the
AU mission expressed concern at the high number of voters turned
away and those being assisted to vote - usually reserved for the
illiterate or the infirm.
In a statement, it also
noted that 8.7m ballot papers were printed - 35% more than the number
of registered voters.
Shortly afterwards, monitors
from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) - which had
562 observers - described the elections as "free and peaceful"
but said it was too early to call them fair.
"In democracy we
not only vote, not only campaign, but accept the hard facts, particularly
the outcome," said SADC mission head Bernard Membe, according
to the AFP news agency.
assessment sharply contrasted to that of the Zimbabwe
Election Support Network (ZESN) - the largest group of domestic
monitors with some 7,000 people on the ground across the country.
It said on Thursday that
the elections were "seriously compromised", with as many
as one million people unable to cast their ballots.
The ZESN said potential
voters were much more likely to be turned away from polling stations
in urban areas, where support for Mr Tsvangirai is strong, than
in President Mugabe's rural strongholds.
The group also alleged
significant irregularities before the poll. It said that 99.7% of
rural voters were registered on the electoral roll in June compared
with only 67.9% of urban voters.
But speaking to al-Jazeera,
Mr Obasanjo questioned ZESN's conclusions, describing them as "not
He said he was satisfied
that the apparent anomalies between urban and rural voter registration
had been explained by the registrar-general, who had the accurate
figures for births and deaths.
Mr Obasanjo also said
that Mr Tsvangirai's camp should have addressed concerns about the
electoral roll before the vote - not after.
MDC member and Finance
Minister Tendai Biti told the BBC that the assistance voting in
rural areas was a "euphemism to say you have to vote for Zanu-PF
under the guidance and watch of someone else".
have stolen the election so much so that they are embarrassed at
what they have done," Mr Biti added.
Still, Mr Obasanjo's
assessment of the elections is a big boost for President Mugabe
and a heavy blow for his opponents, the BBC's Andrew Harding in
It is unclear now how
Mr Tsvangirai intends to fight on, our correspondent adds.
On Thursday, the prime
minister said the elections were "null and void".
is that this has been a huge farce. It's a sham election that does
not reflect the will of the people."
Extra police units -
some in riot gear - have been deployed in Harare.
Under the electoral
law, if no presidential candidate gains 50% of the ballots,
a run-off will be held on 11 September.
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