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Zimbabwe Opposition Publishes Evidence of Electoral Fraud

Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, has published a report it claims confirms its allegation of massive rigging in last week's parliamentary election.

A Movement for Democratic Change statement says its investigations show discrepancies in figures of votes cast and the totals accorded to each candidate in 30 constituencies, as announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

After polling stations closed, the commission announced on national television the numbers of total votes cast for some of the provinces, but abruptly stopped doing so without an explanation. The MDC statement says the party cannot finalize its check on the accuracy of figures in provinces where the figures were not announced because the commission is refusing to release the figures.

The MDC says the refusal by the commission to release the figures shows it has something to hide.

The statement mentions 11 constituencies where the differences between votes cast as announced by the commission and the final total account for the ruling ZANU-PF victories.

The MDC says it has submitted its findings to the South African and Southern African Development Community observer missions, but adds that both have displayed what the party describes as chronic lack of interest. Both groups concluded the poll reflected the will of the people of Zimbabwe.

The MDC participated in last week's election under protest, citing an uneven electoral playing field tilted in favor of the ruling party.

In a related development, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, which observed the election, made public its findings. The report said several issues it raised with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission are still to be clarified.

The lawyers say that among there concerns is that the present constitution does not protect Zimbabwean's rights and fundamental freedoms during the electoral process and this adversely affected participation by the electorate in the electoral process.

The group also said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission failed to provide the necessary voter education, resulting in what is described as an unacceptably high number of voters being turned away from polling stations. This and the disenfranchisement of Zimbabweans abroad, said the report, resulted in selective rather than universal suffrage.

The report also noted the selective use of repressive laws that denied Zimbabweans the right to receive and impart information and to freely assemble to discuss electoral issues. It also repeated the charge that the voters roll is in disarray and questions the impartiality of Zimbabwe's electoral institutions.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights listed a number of recommendations that would address the concerns listed in its report.

President Robert Mugabe has dismissed the allegations of fraud and urged the MDC to be sporting and accept the result, so the two parties can work together.