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Britain Presses for Zimbabwe Election Results


British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has repeated his call for the immediate publication of the results of last Saturday's elections in Zimbabwe. He has also pledged expanded support for Zimbabwe's recovery once there is democracy and good governance. Tendai Maphosa has more from London.

David Miliband spoke in a a carefully worded address to parliament.

"No one in this house would want me to hand ZANU-PF a propaganda coup by endorsing one candidate or another or taking it on myself to announce the results. In truth, in spite of what President Mugabe would want the world to believe, the crisis in Zimbabwe has never been about personalities, it is not a bilateral dispute between British and Zimbabwean politicians or anyone else," he said. "It has and always has been about the policies which Robert Mugabe and his government have chosen to follow."

Miliband said Zimbabwe is at a crossroads where the choice is between democracy and chaos. He paid tribute to the millions of Zimbabweans who came out to vote.

In a reference to reports that a runoff vote may be necessary in the presidential race, Miliband said it should meet the standards set by the regional Southern African Development Community, to which Zimbabwe is a signatory.

The foreign secretary noted that Britain, the second largest bilateral donor of humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe, has stood by Zimbabwe's people during the recent economic hardships that he said were brought upon them by their government and will continue to do so. He said Britain will step up its assistance only under certain conditions.

"We know the Zimbabwean people face a massive rebuilding task. We will help them to do that with EU and international colleagues, but that can only happen when and if there is a return to real democracy and good governance in Zimbabwe," added Miliband.

As Miliband was addressing parliament, Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change announced that its presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, had defeated long-time incumbent President Robert Mugabe. It also claimed victory over Mr. Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party in the parliamentary elections.

In Harare, MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti said tallies based on totals posted outside polling stations showed that Morgan Tsvangirai won 50.3 percent of the presidential vote, while Mr. Mugabe got 43.8 percent. Biti said the MDC would accept a second round runoff "under protest".

Zimbabwean election law requires a presidential candidate to win 51 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff. Four days after the elections, only some results for the 210-seat House of Assembly have been announced.

Zimbabwe government spokesperson Bright Matonga accused the MDC of being mischievous. Interviewed by the BBC, he said the MDC's announcement could trigger violence.

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