Mugabe surges towards landslide
By Staff Reporter
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said Zanu PF had won 55 seats to the MDC's 34 out of the 90 results received from Thursday's nationwide parliamentary elections. The commission indicated the other seat went to an independent, thought to be Mugabe's former Information Minister Jonathan Moyo. Confirmation was expected later on Friday.
Mugabe, as president, appoints 30 lawmakers in the 150-seat parliament. He needs at least 100 seats to win a two thirds majority, and grant him power to amend the country's constitution to ensure his smooth exit from power. Analysts believe Mugabe may use that to name a prime minister who could succeed him in 2008, when he has said he will step down.
The MDC's national executive was expected to meet on Saturday morning to decide its response to the thumping defeat which claimed senior party heavy weights like information secretary Paul Themba Nyathi and shadow minister for agriculture Renson Gasela.
``We want to establish the extent of the fraud before deciding what to do,'' MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, 53. ``The people have just realised that they have been duped again and their hopes dashed.''
``It's clear there is a massive urban-rural divide,'' said MDC spokesman Paul Themba-Nyathi. ``This is a divided nation.''
With a two-thirds majority, ZANU-PF has the power to change the constitution.
Tsvangirai accused Mugabe's government of rigging the polls.
``It only confirmed our deepest fears that this is a fraudulent election once more,'' he said. ``It doesn't reflect the national sentiment.''
U.K. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Friday accused Mugabe's government of intimidation and harassment.
``What is clear is that the elections were seriously flawed, and that 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,'' Straw said in a statement posted on the foreign office's Web site.
The U.S. State Department, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch criticized the elections, citing intimidation and limited opposition access to the media. Mugabe defeated the MDC in two polls since 2000 that observers, including the European Union, condemned for violence and vote irregularities.
``Balloting took place on a playing field that was heavily tilted in favor of the government,'' said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. ``Generally, we'd say that the campaigning took place in an atmosphere of intimidation.''
While totals weren't available, voter turnout in most areas was less than 50 percent, according to figures announced by Lovemore Sekeremayi, the commission's chief elections officer.
have been run smoothly, in an orderly manner and in some instances,
joyful atmosphere,'' electoral commission chairman George Chiweshe said
after voting ended last night. The commission received no reports of
election-related violence, he said.
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