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Monday,September 28,2020 10:00 AM

Mugabe deploys heavily

By Vision Reporter

Added 31st March 2008 03:00 AM

Harare
Anti-riot police deployed on the streets of Zimbabwe’s capital yesterday ahead of the release of the first results from elections in which President Robert Mugabe is fighting to stay in office.

Harare
Anti-riot police deployed on the streets of Zimbabwe’s capital yesterday ahead of the release of the first results from elections in which President Robert Mugabe is fighting to stay in office.

Harare
Anti-riot police deployed on the streets of Zimbabwe’s capital yesterday ahead of the release of the first results from elections in which President Robert Mugabe is fighting to stay in office.

An AFP correspondent saw groups of police armed with batons patrol the streets in central Harare as people walked to work. Tension has mounted in Zimbabwe over the delay in releasing any figures from Saturday’s joint presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections.

According to the first official results released, some 36 hours after the polls, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party were running neck-and-neck.

In the results announced by Zimbabwe’s electoral commission, both the Ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition MDC had 19 each. A total of 210 constituencies are being contested. No official results had by press time been published yet from the presidential election, also held on March 29.

The MDC led by Mugabe’s old rival Morgan Tsvangirai, won the first seat to be declared, the newly-formed constituency of Chegutu West, around 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of the capital Harare, commission spokesman Utoile Silaigwana said.

The US on Monday “strongly encouraged” Zimbabwean authorities to properly count ballots cast in the weekend general election while voicing concerns about the electoral process.

State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey told reporters that Washington was concerned about “massive overprinting of ballots” and the deployment of Zimbabwean police at polling stations in the runup to the elections. Casey said there were “a lot of concerns going in about some of these irregularities that would make the vote counting process potentially pretty problematic.”

“At this point, though, we want to wait and see what results the Zimbabwean electoral commission does produce,” Casey said.

“But we strongly encourage the Zimbabwe election commission to do the right thing to honor the will of the Zimbabwean people and to make sure that only the votes cast are counted, and that every one of them that was cast is counted.”

The elections, for parliament and president, came as Zimbabwe grapples with an inflation rate of more than 100,000 percent and widespread shortages of even basic foodstuffs such as bread and cooking oil.

Whether queueing for hours at cash dispensers or lining up for groceries with their bundles of bank notes, there was only one topic of conversation among Zimbabweans on Monday — the fate of Robert Mugabe.

At the headquarters of the main opposition Movement Democratic Change in downtown Harare, a group of party activists were milling around the pavement waiting for the results as the were being released in batches.

Impromptu street parties were held in townships across Harare a stronghold of the MDC.
Reuters

Mugabe deploys heavily

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