Opposition cites Zimbabwe election fraud
Zimbabwe's main opposition party said Wednesday an investigation into last week's parliamentary election indicates massive electoral fraud in at least 30 seats won by the ruling ZANU-PF party.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change said that in 11 races the winning ZANU-PF candidate got more votes in the official returns than the government's own electoral commission said were cast.
"This election was stolen. The results are in no way an accurate reflection of the sovereign wishes of the people of Zimbabwe," MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said in a statement.
President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party was declared the winner of 78 of Parliament's 120 elected seats. The MDC got 41 seats, and one seat went to an independent candidate. Under Zimbabwe law, Mugabe appoints 30 more members of Parliament.
The U.S. Embassy also criticized the election Wednesday, issuing a statement that expressed "particular concern at the lack of transparency in the tabulation of vote counts" and the role of police and ruling party officials in polling and counting.
In races in urban areas where the MDC was widely expected to hold its seats, Nyathi said very few discrepancies were identified.
"This raises further suspicions that there was a calculated plan to ensure that the MDC won a sufficient number of seats to provide the electoral process, and the end result, with a veneer of legitimacy," said Nyathi.
The United States and Britain, which were not among the observers hand-picked by Mugabe to assess the election, condemned the vote and said the process had been tilted heavily in favor of the ruling party.
The U.S. Embassy said it deployed 25 teams of diplomats to observe the election and noted that some polling stations were intimidatingly close to police stations and ruling party offices and "appeared to be associated with food distribution." At many of them, it said, up to 30 percent of would-be voters were turned away.
The embassy also criticized the "silence of the Zimbabwe Election Commission on crucial issues." It said the commission failed to release results from any of the individual polling stations and did not explain the drastic discrepancies between results and figures for number of votes cast.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the elections "were fundamentally flawed and further weaken Mugabe's legitimacy."
"Some say this is about Africa versus the West. It is not," said Straw. "It is about democracy versus dictatorship. Other Africans, too, have been saying enough is enough."