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Archive for Monday, April 4, 2005

Opposition demands new elections

April 4, 2005

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— Zimbabwe's embattled opposition on Sunday demanded new parliamentary elections under a different constitution, saying voting can never be free and fair under the current legislative framework.

President Robert Mugabe's party scored an overwhelming win in a poll Thursday condemned by all but his closest African neighbors as severely flawed.

Citing major inconsistencies in the results, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai maintained Sunday that his Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC, won 94 of Parliament's 120 elected seats, and not the 41 announced by electoral officials. MDC officials did not specify how they calculated the figure.

Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, ZANU-PF, claimed 78 seats, and one went to an independent candidate, according to official results. Under Zimbabwean law, Mugabe appoints an additional 30 seats, giving his party a more than two-thirds majority.

The opposition and independent rights groups have complained of huge discrepancies in the results -- particularly in the government's rural strongholds. In at least one area, the number of votes counted exceeded the number of people who cast ballots by more than 15,000, according to figures announced by the electoral commission.

By Sunday, the electoral officials had only released turnout figures for six of the country's 10 provinces. They refused to explain the reason for the delay in releasing the election information.

The opposition charged the government had stuffed ballot boxes after turning away its observers at some polling stations. The ruling ZANU-PF rejected the accusation, saying opposition leaders had failed to produce evidence of their claims.

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