Tsvangirai faces run-off election
Saturday 03 May 2008
Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe accepted that the opposition's Morgan Tsvangirai won more votes in the presidential election and will contest a run-off in a political battle that has raised fears of bloodshed.
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) cried foul after Zimbabwe's electoral body announced yesterday that he had won 47.9 percent of the vote but faces a run-off after failing to gain enough votes for an outright majority.
The MDC described the announcement of the long-delayed result as "scandalous daylight robbery". It says Tsvangirai won more than 50 per cent of the vote in the March 29 election and Mugabe's 28-year rule is over.
But Mugabe's old foe has few options. If Tsvangirai refuses to take part in a second round, Mugabe would keep his hold on power according to electoral law. The MDC said it would decide at the weekend whether to contest a run-off.
An aide to Mugabe said the president accepted the result of the first round and would contest a run-off.
"The presidential result as announced do not reflect the genuine expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people given the many anomalies, malpractices, deflation of figures relating to ZANU-PF candidates," chief election agent Emmerson Mnangagwa told reporters.
Western powers expressed doubt that a run-off could be fair.
"For any second round of the presidential election to be considered free and fair ... an end of violence as well as the presence of international observers is of crucial importance," said a statement by current European Union president Slovenia.
Chief Elections Officer Lovemore Sekeramayi said Tsvangirai won 47.9 percent with Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from Britain, on 43.2 percent. Independent Simba Makoni, a ruling party defector, took 8.3 percent.
"Since no candidate has received the majority of the total votes cast ... a second election shall be held on a date to be announced by the commission," Sekeramayi said.
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