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Concern Raised About Ballot Fraud in Zimbabwe


A coalition of human and political rights agencies in Zimbabwe say they are worried that the government is preparing to carry out ballot box fraud to make sure that President Robert Mugabe wins another six-year term. At the end of the second day of polling, dozens more incidents of violence and harassment against the opposition Movement for Democratic Change have been reported.

The crisis in Zimbabwe Group, an umbrella organization for more than 100 agencies, says that ballot manipulation could be under way in three areas in the central part of the country which have been closed off.

Brian Raftopoulos, chairman of Crisis in Zimbabwe, told a news conference Sunday that there are indications that the army and air force are involved in sealing off the areas and that opposition party officials have been unable to get access.

He accused the government of attempting to, as he put it, "steal the election."

A Zimbabwe human rights group, the Human Rights Forum, says that at least 30 people, almost all of them MDC supporters, were injured in attacks by ruling ZANU(PF) party supporters and militants on Sunday. The forum says there were dozens of similar incidents the day before.

Among the victims of the Sunday attacks was an American citizen in the Honde Valley, in the extreme northeast of the country. The Human Rights Forum says the American was later detained by police for unknown reasons and was seen to be limping and blood stained.

The Human Rights Forum says there have been cases of polling stations being invaded and closed by youth militia of the ruling party.

The MDC says that at least 60 of its officials were beaten up or intimidated by militant supporters of the ruling party on Sunday. The party says that its election supervisory officials have been stopped from observing the voting at almost half of Zimbabwe's 4,500 polling stations.

Augustine Chihuri, the chief of police, told state television that there has been very little violence and that polling has gone smoothly.

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