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Zimbabwe Opposition Claims Victory in Presidential, Parliamentary Elections


In Zimbabwe, the opposition says it defeated President Robert Mugabe and his party in last Saturday's presidential and parliamentary elections. But the ruling party has rejected the claim saying it was not based on official results. VOA's Scott Bobb reports from our Southern Africa Bureau in Johannesburg.

The Secretary-General of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Tendai Biti, said opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the presidential election with more than 50 percent (50.3) of the vote, while President Robert Mugabe received 43 percent.

Biti said the figures were based on official results posted at voting stations around the country.

"We on our part as these figures reflect, maintain that we have won this election, the presidential election, outright without the need for the runoff," he said. "So we wait anxiously whether the Zimbabwe Election Commission will confirm that which the media that they control, the state media, has already begun to prepare the people of Zimbabwe for, namely a runoff in 21 days."

Biti said he believed a runoff was not necessary, but indicated his party would accept one.

The state-owned Herald newspaper says the pattern of returns indicated that no candidate would win the presidential election outright, thus forcing a runoff.

Officials of Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF quickly denied the opposition's claim, calling it wishful and saying the opposition should have waited for the official results.

The Zimbabwe Election Commission, charged with compiling the official results, has yet to announce any returns from the presidential election.

The Commission has announced most of the parliamentary election results, which indicate that the two factions of the opposition MDC have won control of the national assembly.

The MDC said its tallies showed that voter turnout was low, only 40 percent of the nearly six million registered voters.

Observers said the balloting Saturday was orderly and peaceful. Some observers called the vote credible. But others criticized what they said were irregularities in the voter registration list, the demarcation of voting districts, and a lack of voter education.

The delay in announcing the results led to rumors and speculation.

Inside sources were quoted as saying that talks were underway between the opposition and civilian and military officials over whether Mr. Mugabe would accept the results and the repercussions of his decision. But the opposition and the ruling party Tuesday denied these reports.

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