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Verification of Long Delayed Zimbabwe Presidential Results Begins


Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's government says it has its own presidential election results showing a run-off will be necessary. Peta Thornycroft reports for VOA from Harare that Zimbabwe's Electoral Commission has begun verification of the long-delayed results from the March presidential elections.

Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga told the Associated Press that opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai beat President Robert Mugabe, but not by enough to avoid a run-off.

Through a series of leaked information Mr. Mugabe's party, ZANU-PF, claims Mr. Tsvangirai got 47 percent of the vote and the incumbent 43 percent. To win outright a candidate needs more than 50 percent of the vote.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's electoral commission began consulting presidential candidates to check if their voting figures tally with those held by the commission.

Commission chairman George Chiweshe said disagreements would be investigated until there was agreement. Regional observers and diplomats are at the verification process and many believe it could take some time.

Mr. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change says it will present evidence intended to prove its candidate won more than 50 percent of the vote. The Election Commission has already said the MDC gained control of Zimbabwe's parliament.

Tsvangirai spokesman George Sibotshiwe said Wednesday in South Africa that the MDC believes only fraudulent results would deny Mr. Tsvangirai outright victory. He said if the government cannot accept the real results now, what is the guarantee the results of a run-off would be accepted.

Harare lawyer and electoral researcher Derek Matyszek says the delay in announcing the results of the presidential poll, had been choreographed between the Commission and ZANU-PF so the party could retain control of key institutions, such as the military, while it regroups.

The opposition accuses the government and ZANU-PF of conducting a post-election campaign of terror and violence that has left the MDC in disarray, with its main leaders staying out of the country for fear of arrest.

The MDC says 20 of its supporters have been killed in the post-election violence as the vote count drags on.

The secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Wellington Chibebe, told a May Day rally that two teachers were among those been killed. He said the deaths would be avenged. The labor movement is a strong ally of Morgan Tsvangirai.

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