- Sputnik International
Get the latest news from around the world, live coverage, off-beat stories, features and analysis.

EU urges swift Zimbabwe election result as tensions mount

HARARE, March 31 (RIA Novosti) - The European Union urged Zimbabwe on Monday to announce the results of Saturday's election, to avoid tensions brewing over fears the incumbent leader is rigging the results.

Robert Mugabe, 84, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980 and over the past eight years overseen the once prosperous nation's slide into chaos and destitution, faced his toughest challenge yet from opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, in a vote which saw a huge turnout.

European Commission aid spokesman John Clancy said in a statement: "The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission should publish the final results as soon as possible to demonstrate its independence and to avoid unnecessary speculation."

Almost 48 hours after polls closed for the combined parliamentary and presidential elections, the state Electoral Commission has given only partial parliamentary results, but no indication of who is ahead in the more important presidential vote. Typically, election results in the country are announced just a few hours after polling stations close.

International observers were banned from the election, but independent African monitors said that according to results from two-thirds of polling stations, Tsvangirai has 55% of the vote to Mugabe's 36%, enough to hand the challenger the presidency without a re-run.

Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have claimed an even larger victory of around 67%, based on collated results from vote counts posted outside each polling station, and say Mugabe is now uncertain over how to cling on to power despite his clear defeat, and under intense international scrutiny.

"It appears the regime is at a loss how to respond ... We are really concerned by this assault on democracy," MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti told reporters.

"The primary point of an election is a result. We think there is a constitutional threat to those results."

Authorities have threatened to treat the MDC's claim of victory, which was banned pending official results, as a coup attempt.

Britain, which ruled the southern African nation from the 1890s to the 1960s and is now blamed by Mugabe for his country's desperate plight, also issued a statement calling for results to be announced swiftly.

According to the partial results released by the state Electoral Commission, Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and Tsvangirai MDC have so far won 12 seats each in the 210-seat parliament.

The Southern African Development Community, a regional election observer mission, said the long delay to the presidential result confirms fears that the results are being faked.

Monitors say the third presidential candidate, Simba Makoni, a former Mugabe loyalist, garnered around 9% of the vote.

Many voters are desperate for change in Zimbabwe, where local cash is worth next to nothing with a 100,000% inflation rate, and the HIV virus is spreading unabated. Severe food and medicine shortages have caused a steady decline in life expectancy.

The economy's meltdown began in 2000 with the government's campaign of forced land redistribution. After thousands of white farmers were evicted, mismanagement and corruption set in, crippling agriculture.

The U.K.'s Guardian newspaper quoted Kenya-based Andebrhan Giorgis of the International Crisis Group think tank as saying Mugabe might admit defeat.

"It is not outside the realm of possibility that he would accept defeat in a supreme act of statesmanship... An act of concession would redeem him and it would be the only way of assuring stability, avoid violence and begin reversing economic decline," the paper quoted him as saying.

To participate in the discussion
log in or register
Заголовок открываемого материала