Mugabe Declared Winner In Zimbabwe's Presidential Poll
Zimbabwe's longtime President Robert Mugabe has been declared the winner in elections that give him another five-year term. But the opposition says the vote was rigged.
Mugabe won by 61 percent, with his main challenger, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, trailing far behind in the official results from the July 31 vote. Mugabe's party, the Zimbabwe African National Union, also managed a comfortable win in parliamentary elections.
"Mugabe, Robert Gabriel, of ZANU-PF party is therefore duly elected president of the Republic of Zimbabwe with effect of today," commission head Rita Makarau announced Saturday.
NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, reporting from Harare, says there's likely to be a legal challenge — but that the options for Mugabe's opponents look slim.
Tsvangirai has disputed the outcome, but called for a peaceful response to the official tally. He vowed not to participate in any government institutions to protest what he said was vote rigging.
Tsvangirai's opposition Movement for Democratic Change says it is preparing a dossier detailing wholesale irregularities and vote fraud to be handed over to the Southern African Development Community, which deployed election observers to monitor the contested ballot.
MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti, Zimbabwe's outgoing finance minister in the coalition government, called the vote "historic landslide grand theft."
"What they have simply done is to plunge Zimbabwe into a political, constitutional governance issue, because they do not have the people, they do not have the legitimacy and they do not have the capacity of running this government," he said.
However, Ofeibea reports there's been "broad endorsement for the conduct of Zimbabwe's election by the main African observer missions. Western observers were not invited."
The head of the Southern African Development Community's observer delegation, Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe, has appealed to all sides to accept the results.
"These elections, under the circumstances, have gone well," he said. "We cannot now say that there should be an idea of nullification. To what cost? Where elections took place under cordial, peace, nonviolent atmosphere, we must accept the facts, no matter how painful this might be."