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Zimbabwe Invites Presidential Candidates to Watch Vote Verification


Zimbabwe's Electoral Commission has invited the country's presidential candidates to watch the verification of the long-awaited presidential election results.

Zimbabwe's chief elections officer, Lovemore Sekeramayi, said the process would begin Thursday. He announced the plans Wednesday in the state-run newspaper, The Herald.

Zimbabwe's March 29 presidential and parliamentary elections were the biggest challenge President Robert Mugabe has faced since he took power in 1980.

The Election Commission declared the opposition Movement for Democratic Change winner of the parliamentary race. But the presidential winner has been not been announced.

Human Rights Watch Wednesday accused Zimbabwe's army of using torture and intimidation against political rivals to ensure Mr. Mugabe wins a possible second round of the presidential election.

The U.S.-based group said its investigation showed the military has provided arms and trucks to Mr. Mugabe's allies to raid the homes of political rivals.

Human Rights Watch also accused military forces and Mr. Mugabe's supporters of targeting MDC members for abuse, and forcing them to swear allegiance to the ruling party.

The government has denied allegations of violence, and accuses MDC members of committing crimes.

The MDC says its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, won the presidential election.

World leaders are calling on Zimbabwe's government to respect its citizens' vote for change and reveal the election results.

On Tuesday, the U.N. Security Council failed to agree on a plan to aid Zimbabwe.

The U.S. deputy permanent representative to the U.N., Alejandro Wolff, said he regretted the Council's inaction. He said Zimbabwe is facing its worst humanitarian crisis since its independence from Britain in 1980.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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