Mugabe Party Wins Zimbabwe Poll

Reuters, Apr. 1

Zimbabwe’s ruling party won parliamentary elections on Friday but a furious opposition accused President Robert Mugabe of rigging the vote to extend his 25-year grip on power.

Mugabe’s ZANU-PF crossed a key threshhold by taking 51 out of the 120 seats being contested—guaranteeing it a simple majority in the 150-seat parliament where 30 additional members are by law Mugabe appointees.

Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had 33 of the 84 seats declared, its earlier lead demolished by a strong ZANU-PF showing in rural districts.

Britain joined an international chorus condemning the poll, saying the 81-year-old Mugabe had cheated voters and prolonged a crisis which has brought the once-prosperous country to its knees.

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Tsvangirai, who has accused Mugabe of using repressive laws, political threats and even access to food supplies to engineer a victory, said the MDC had noted everything from intimidation to thousands of extra votes cast in battleground constituencies.

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Britain, Zimbabwe’s former colonial master and frequent critic of Mugabe, joined Western powers including the United States, the European Union, Germany and Australia which have already labeled the poll a travesty.

“Mugabe has yet again denied ordinary Zimbabweans a free and fair opportunity to vote, further prolonging the political and economic crisis he has inflicted on their country,” Foreign Minister Jack Straw said in a statement.

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