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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Zimbabwe election: MDC's Roy Bennett calls for boycott

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has already dismissed the election as "a sham"

A Zimbabwean opposition figure has called for a campaign of civil disobedience, amid allegations of vote fraud in an election won by President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF.

Roy Bennett, treasurer of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said people should "totally disengage" and bring Zimbabwe to a standstill.

The MDC has alleged massive fraud and said it would not recognise the result.

The party is holding emergency meetings to discuss the outcome.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission confirmed on Saturday that Zanu-PF had won a two-thirds majority in the parliamentary election.

Results in the presidential race have yet to be announced.

'Clear messages of calm'

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who heads the MDC and is running for president against Mr Mugabe, has already dismissed the election as "a sham".

Its treasurer Roy Bennett said there should be a wave of social disobedience in order to bring the regime to a halt.

"I'm calling on the people of Zimbabwe, who are our constituents and who we represent in the positions we hold, for passive resistance and for total disengagement," he said.

"And let Zanu-PF rule and rule by themselves and bring the country to a standstill."

Continue reading the main story

Analysis

Brian Hungwe BBC News, Harare

There is a mood of despair among Morgan Tsvangirai's supporters - they are shocked and dejected. A palpable feeling has gripped the capital, Harare, where people's hopes had been raised by the absence of the intimidation and violence seen in past elections. Many cannot understand how President Robert Mugabe's party managed to win seats in Mr Tsvangirai's urban strongholds.

In contrast, Zanu-PF supporters feel they have brought back the father of the nation, who fought colonial rule and restored the dignity of black Zimbabweans.

Emotions are running high and the country is likely to face another period of bickering and, perhaps, economic stagnation.

The leaders of Mr Tsvangirai's MDC are meeting on Saturday to map the way forward. The question is whether he will remain at the helm, or face internal pressures to quit. The strong indications are that he may stay on in the opposition trenches until the next election.

For now, the MDC is pursuing the legal route, which - judging by the past - is unlikely to succeed.

For President Mugabe, it is time to go back to the office, where he will face the world's questions about his legitimacy.

One of the nine members of the election commission resigned on Saturday, casting further doubt on the election.

Commissioner Mkhululi Nyathi said in his resignation letter: "While throughout the whole process I retained some measure of hope that the integrity of the whole process could be salvaged along the way, this was not to be."

He made no specific accusations in the letter, but said his "many reasons" for resigning were all linked to the way the elections were "proclaimed and conducted".

Monitoring bodies were divided over the conduct of the election.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) - the largest group of domestic monitors with some 7,000 people on the ground - said problems with voter registration had left up to one million people unable to cast their ballots.

It said voting irregularities were much more likely to affect MDC-strongholds in urban areas.

However, the African Union and the Sadc economic bloc broadly endorsed the election, saying it was free and peaceful.

South Africa also approved the result, and challenged critics to provide evidence of vote-rigging.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on leaders of both parties to send "clear messages of calm" to their supporters.

Zanu-PF and the MDC formed an uneasy coalition government in 2009. That deal ended deadly violence that erupted after a disputed presidential poll the previous year.

Mr Mugabe, 89, is running for a seventh term.

If Zanu-PF clinches a two-thirds majority it will be able to change Zimbabwe's constitution.

Under Zimbabwean law, seven days are set aside for legal challenges with another two days for rulings to be made. After that, the swearing-in of a new government takes place.

The BBC's Andrew Harding in Johannesburg says some strong legal challenges are likely, with perhaps a few results overturned.

Are you in Zimbabwe? What are your thoughts following the election? What do you think about the MDC call for "passive resistance"? You can send us your comments using the form below.

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Source : bbc[dot]co[dot]uk

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