ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday April 27, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 48

Zimbabwe opposition leads in vote recount

HARARE, Saturday (AFP) - Zimbabwe's main opposition party retained a lead today in an ongoing recount of ballots from last month's elections where it won a historic victory against President Robert Mugabe's ruling party. With results from 10 of the 23 constituencies being recounted announced in the state daily The Herald, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) retained six parliamentary seats while ZANU-PF retained four.

Police load supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) onto a truck after they raided the MDC headquarters, The Harvest house, in Harare on April 25, 2008.

The results came as tensions mounted in the troubled southern African state, with a police spokesman saying that 215 opposition supporters were detained during a raid on the MDC's headquarters on Friday.

“Police rounded up 215 people... and these will be screened against participation in politically-motivated criminal activities around the country,” Wayne Bvudzijena was quoted as saying.Referring to seven new results on top of the three already announced, Utloile Silaigwana, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission spokesman, was quoted as saying: “Nothing has changed as all the candidates have retained their seats.”ZANU-PF lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in 1980 in the March 29 election but a partial recount was ordered following allegations of vote fraud by the opposition.

The final result is still up in the air, however, as the remaining 13 constituencies are sufficient to return the majority to ZANU-PF amid opposition fears that the authorities are planning to rig the recount.“We have so far finished counting in 14 constituencies. The results will be announced in due course,” ZEC spokesman Silaigwana told AFP.

The ZEC is yet to announce the results of a presidential election held on the same day as the legislative polls. The MDC claims its leader Morgan Tsvangirai won an outright majority in the vote.

US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Jendayi Frazer, who is on a tour of the region aimed at cutting off support for Mugabe, has said that Tsvangirai won a clear victory and should head any new government. Frazer has argued that ongoing political violence meant that the result of any run-off in the presidential vote would not be credible.

But Mugabe supporters say there should be a second round of voting.“Although official results have not yet been released, all independent tallies of the results posted outside polling stations... point to a run-off,”said Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, The Herald reported.

Human rights groups have accused the Mugabe regime of unleashing violence and intimidation against opposition supporters in order to ensure a victory for Mugabe in the second round. The MDC said in a statement issued on Friday that two more of its supporters had been killed in politically-motivated violence, bringing the death toll to 12 since the election.

“The MDC believes the number could be higher than this as some of the deaths could have gone unreported since a number of areas have been made no-go areas by ZANU-PF supporters,” the statement said.

The opposition has called for the deployment of human rights monitors to Zimbabwe to help end the alleged torture and brutal killings taking place in a southern African nation.

“We call upon all human rights groups to urgently assist in providing shelter and support to all persons displaced by the political violence,” said Priscilla Mushonga, MDC deputy secretary general.

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