Friday, June 27, 2008

VOTERS SNUB ZIMBABWE 'SHAM' POLL

Voting has been slow in Zimbabwe's run-off presidential poll in which Robert Mugabe is the sole candidate.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from the contest because of violence against his supporters and has urged them to stay away if possible.
The European Union dismissed the vote as a "sham" and the US and Germany say the UN will consider sanctions.
Turnout has been noticeably less than during the first round in March and concerns about violence remain.
A Zimbabwean journalist said militias loyal to Mr Mugabe were going door-to-door in townships outside the capital, Harare, forcing people to vote.

Robert Mugabe casts his vote and says he feels 'optimistic'.
An observer for the South African Development Community (Sadc) - among the few monitors permitted - said the elections "were worse than those we witnessed in Angola in 1992 after decades of war and are not credible''.
Foreign ministers for the Group of Eight nations (G8) meeting in Japan have said they could not accept the legitimacy of a government "that does not reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people".
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said they would consult other members of the UN Security Council to see what "next steps" might need to be taken.
'Frightening'
Earlier, Mr Mugabe brushed aside calls for the election to be postponed or called off and said his Zanu-PF party would continue to rule the country as it believed it should be ruled.

People will not feel safe moving about with an unmarked finger - Zimbabwean citizen.

The BBC's John Simpson, in Zimbabwe despite a reporting ban, says he had never seen an election as frightening - where people know that if they fail to turn out to vote and do not have the ink stain to prove it, they are liable to the most ferocious retribution from Zanu-PF thugs.
He adds that if someone does summon up the courage to vote for Morgan Tsvangirai, whose name is still on the ballot, then there are fears their identity could be discovered.
State-owned newspapers said "massive voter turnout" was expected in Friday's poll but Zimbabwean journalists in Harare and Bulawayo told the BBC voting had got off to a slow start - especially compared with the high turnout in the first round.
Themba Nkosi, in Bulawayo said officials for Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had told supporters in rural areas to vote if they felt their lives were in danger - and to vote for Morgan Tsvangirai or spoil their ballot.
One-man race
A woman in Muture told the BBC's Network Africa programme she thought the result would not be legitimate.

Zimbabweans explain why they are voting in the election.
"I haven't been out and about but I have phoned a few friends and most of them say they are going to vote and exercise their democratic right," she said.
"Some people will vote out of fear because even in the urban areas because there is that ink they put on your finger when you vote and people will not feel safe moving about with an unmarked finger."
Another, in Manicaland Province, said: "I am not going to vote in a one person race.
"I will not vote for a dictator and for hunger while my brother was killed in cold blood."
Zanu-PF supporter Richard Munsaka, in Hwange, Matebeland North Province said the question of a free and fair election "depends on the eyes of the beholder".
"I'm not saying there is no violence in the east of the country... but not on a massive scale and that in itself cannot stop the whole country from going to vote just because a few individuals are kicking themselves."
A woman in Harare said: "I will be exercising my right. We as Zimbabweans need to decide the direction that we want the country to take - so we can only do that by voting."
Reports suggested Zanu-PF membership cards were selling for huge sums of money on the black market. Those buying the cards believe they will offer some protection from attack by militias, a BBC correspondent reports.
Zimbabwe's police said the MDC were planning to disrupt the elections and have warned that any criminal activity will be met "head on, and with the full force of the law".
Polling stations are due to close at 1700 GMT.
Mr Tsvangirai condemned the election as "another tragic day in our nation's history".
"My fellow Zimbabweans, we know what is in your heart. If possible, we ask you not to vote today. But if you must vote for Mr Mugabe because of threats to your life, then do so."

The MDC is contesting three by-elections that are also taking place on Friday following the deaths of three candidates - in circumstances not related to the political violence.
The MDC won the parliamentary elections - also held in March - but the presidency is a far more powerful institution.
Mr Mugabe came second to Mr Tsvangirai in the first round of the presidential vote in March.
Since then, the MDC says some 86 of its supporters have been killed and 200,000 forced from their homes by militias loyal to Zanu-PF. The government blames the MDC for the violence.
Regional leaders - including from Nigeria, the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and the African Union - had called on Mr Mugabe to postpone the vote and negotiate with the opposition.
While Mr Mugabe said he planned to attend an African Union summit in Egypt next week, Mr Mugabe said the AU had "no right in dictating to us what we should do with our constitution, and how we should govern this country".
He has suggested negotiations with the MDC were possible - "should we emerge victorious, which I believe we will".
Mr Tsvangirai has said negotiations would not be possible if Mr Mugabe went ahead with the run-off.
He said Zimbabwe's army was preparing to force people to vote in massive numbers for Mr Mugabe.
BBC NEWS REPORT.

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