MDC cries foul as Zanu-PF claims win
Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change described the election as a 'monumental fraud'.
- Robert Mugabe
- Zimbabwe elections
- Zimbabwe government
- Robert Mugabes government in Zimbabwe
- Robert Mugabes party
- Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
- Zimbabwe sanctions
- Tendai Biti
- Morgan Tsvangarai
- Movement for Democratic Change party MDC
- Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti
- Zimbabwe voter registration
- Zimbabwe referendum
- Movement for Democratich Change
HARARE - The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai has declared Zimbabwe's elections "null and void".
The prime minister has dismissed the polls as "a huge sham" saying the results are invalid because of intimidation and ballot rigging by President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF Party, which is claiming victory.
Votes are still being counted in some of the nearly 10,000 polling stations across Zimbabwe as the two prime contenders in the presidential race have drawn a line under Wednesday's elections.
Tsvangirai, who's making a third attempt to put 89-year-old Mugabe out to pasture has said the election is a monumental fraud.
The question is whether his determination that it's null and void will be accepted by those countries who have slapped sanctions on Mugabe and his lieutenants for stealing elections in 2002 and 2008.
Meanwhile, Wednesday's voting was peaceful across the nation, but the conflicting claims heralded an angry dispute over the outcome that increases the chances of a repeat of the violence that followed a contested vote in 2008.
Releasing unofficial results early in Zimbabwe is illegal, and police have said they will arrest anybody who makes premature claims.
Election authorities are due to announce the official outcome by 5 August.
But a senior source in Mugabe's party, who asked not to be named, said the result was already clear.
"We've taken this election. We've buried the MDC. We never had any doubt that we were going to win," the source told Reuters by phone.
Responding to the claim, a high-ranking source in Tsvangirai's party described the election as "a monumental fraud".
"Zimbabweans have been taken for a ride by Zanu-PF and Mugabe. We do not accept it," the source, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters.
The MDC was to hold an emergency meeting later on Thursday.
As riot police took up position outside the MDC headquarters in central Harare, an independent election monitor, who also could not be named for fear of arrest, said early results were looking like a "disaster" for Tsvangirai.
Western observers were barred, but the head of an African Union monitoring mission said on Wednesday the polls had initially appeared "peaceful, orderly and free and fair" - an assessment at odds with the view of the MDC and independent agencies.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), the leading domestic monitoring body, said the credibility of the vote was seriously compromised by large numbers of people being turned away from polling stations in MDC strongholds.
REFUTING THE RESULTS
Zimbabwe's Finance Minister and MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti, regarding comments made by him during an MDC press conference on Wednesday.
Biti alleged there was a deliberate go-slow in areas known to be MDC strongholds, where 35 percent of people were turned away from casting their ballots.
He claimed this had been happening across the country and that ballot boxes were swapped.
Additionally, Biti criticised Zimbabwe's Electoral Commission (ZEC) for what he referred to as a manipulated voters' roll and a lack of organisation.
The ZEC hit back, claiming the slow and unorganised manner in which some voting stations operated were because of a lack of funds from government.
The opposition also told reporters and the public that the results would first make its way to the military brass before being made public.
If it is indeed true that there is military interference, a "free and fair" vote is highly unlikely.
It also cast doubt on the authenticity of the voters' roll, noting that 99.97 percent of voters in the countryside - Mugabe's main source of support - were registered, against just 67.9 percent in the mostly pro-Tsvangirai urban areas.
In all, 6.4 million people, nearly half the population, had been registered to vote.
"It is not sufficient for elections to be peaceful for elections to be credible," ZESN chairman Solomon Zwana told a news conference. "They must offer all citizens ... an equal opportunity to vote."
Several political sources told _Reuters _that top MDC members had lost their parliamentary seats, including some in the capital, Tsvangirai's main support base since he burst onto the political scene in the former British colony 15 years ago.
Party insiders spoke of their shock at the result.
If confirmed, Mugabe's victory is likely to mean five more years of troubled relations with the West, where the former liberation fighter is regarded as a ruthless despot responsible for serious human rights abuses and wrecking the economy.
The United States, which has sanctions in place against Mugabe, expressed concerns about the credibility of the vote, citing persistent pro-Zanu-PF bias in the state media and partisan security forces?