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Bush Wants Zimbabwe to Release Election Results


The White House is calling on Zimbabwe's government to release the results of presidential elections held March 29. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Zimbabwe's opposition leader says he has defeated long-time President Robert Mugabe.

White House Spokesman Tony Fratto says President Bush believes Zimbabwean voters have the right to know how their election turned out.

"The president believes that the Zimbabwe election officials should release publicly the election results so that the people of Zimbabwe can see those election results and the numbers and make a decision on how to go forward," said Tony Fratto.

Zimbabwe's High Court says it will wait until Tuesday to rule on an opposition petition demanding the immediate release of the presidential vote. The ruling ZANU-PF party wants a recount.

Previously-released results from the lower house and senate show the ruling party narrowly lost its majorities.

Independent election monitors believe opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai defeated President Mugabe but fell short of the majority needed to avoid a runoff.

Fratto says President Bush believes Zimbabwe's delay in releasing the results raises concerns about the impartiality of the vote.

"We have a great deal of concern about this election and how it was carried-out," he said. "We believe that the Zimbabwe people deserve the opportunity to have a free and fair election. And it certainly raises concerns when one week after polls close, election results still have not been produced publicly."

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is also urging Zimbabwe's Electoral Commission to release the presidential returns quickly.

Zimbabwe's official inflation rate, already the world's highest, has now risen to more than 100,000 percent. Price controls introduced last June have had little effect in a country with chronic food and fuel shortages and an unemployment rate of about 80 percent.

President Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since its 1980 independence from Britain. Critics blame him for economic mismanagement and the poorly-handled seizure of white-owned commercial farms. President Mugabe blames sabotage by Western governments led by Britain.

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