Zimbabwe election: Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC denounces 'monumental fraud' as Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF claims victory

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvanirgai says his party considers the vote 'null and void'

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The Independent Online

Amid accusations of "monumental fraud", Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has claimed victory in Zimbabwe's election.

Despite the illegality of announcing unofficial election results - police have said they will arrest anybody who makes premature claims - an anonymous senior source inside Zanu-PF told Reuters: "We've taken this election. We've buried the MDC (Morgan Tsvangirai's party, Movement for Democratic Change).

"We never had any doubt that we were going to win."

Election authorities are due to announce the official outcome by August 5.

The claim comes as the MDC and electoral authorities cry foul. Prime Minister Mr Tsvangirai said: “In our view, that election is null and void."

He warned: “The shoddy manner in which it has been conducted and the consequent illegitimacy of the result will plunge this country into a serious crisis."

A high-ranking source in MDC 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 today.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), the leading domestic monitoring body, said large numbers of people were turned away from polling stations in MDC strongholds.

It further noted that 99.97 per cent of rural voters - Mugabe's main source of support - were registered, while just 67.9 per cent were registered in mainly pro-MDC urban areas.

"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."

Western observers were barred from the election, but the head of an African Union monitoring mission said on Wednesday the polls had initially appeared "peaceful, orderly and free and fair."

Extra police, some in riot gear, were deployed in the capital Harare today. A contested vote in 2008 led to months of violence, in which 120 opposition supporters were killed and thousands more injured. Since 2009 the two parties have maintained a tense ruling coalition.

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.

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