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Zimbabwe Opposition Accuses Mugabe Supporters of Sabotage


Opposition leaders in Zimbabwe say supporters of President Robert Mugabe have launched a campaign of violence in order to derail elections 10 days ago, which they say they won. The accusation comes as a court in Harare began hearings on the delayed results of the presidential vote. 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, says militias of the ruling ZANU-PF party are being armed and are attacking MDC supporters in what he called massive post-election violence.

Biti appealed to African governments to intervene in what he called the constitutional and legal crisis in Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, Commercial Farmers Union leader Trevor Gifford said supporters of Mr. Mugabe have evicted farmers who were thought to have supported the opposition.

"Sixty farmers have been removed from their farms since Saturday evening and of those 60, two are black commercial farmers and the remainder are white commercial farmers," he said.

He said it reminded some of the period following the elections of 2000 and 2002 in which all, but a few hundred of Zimbabwe's 4,000 white farmers were evicted and their farms given to liberation-war veterans and government officials.

"We have information at hand, which shows to us that this is state sponsored," he added. "It is directed by parts of the military, the [ruling] party and the war veterans. And basically, we are getting very little support in trying to sort out this problem."

The high court in Harare began an urgent hearing at the request of the opposition on whether to oblige the Zimbabwe Election Commission to release results of the presidential election 10 days ago.

The Commission has released results from the parliamentary election showing the opposition won a majority of the seats. And it has released results from Senate elections showing the two sides won an equal number of seats.

But results for the presidential vote have not been released. The opposition and pro-democracy civic groups say their tallies of official results posted outside polling centers show MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai defeated Mr. Mugabe and may have won the 50 percent majority needed be declared the winner outright.

The government has asked for a recount of many of the results and has arrested five electoral officials, accusing them of undercounting votes for Mr. Mugabe. ZANU-PF leaders have indicated they are preparing for a runoff election, which is required if no presidential candidate wins 50 percent of the vote. By law a runoff must be held within 21 days of the announcement of the results.

The opposition says these moves are part of an orchestrated attempt by the ruling party to overturn its first defeat since independence 28 years ago. Western governments have expressed concern over the delay, but South African President Thabo Mbeki urged patience Monday, saying the process should be allowed to take its course.

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