News / Africa

Zimbabwe Riot Police Deploy on Eve of Tight Election

A Zimbabwean opposition party Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) supporter holds a party newsletter at an election rally, about 90 km (56 miles) east of the capital Harare, July 23, 2013.
A Zimbabwean opposition party Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) supporter holds a party newsletter at an election rally, about 90 km (56 miles) east of the capital Harare, July 23, 2013.
Reuters
Heavily armed riot police deployed in potential election flashpoints in Zimbabwe on Tuesday on the eve of a poll showdown between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that remains too close to call.
 
State radio said thousands of officers had been sent to the central Midlands province, while trucks of police carrying automatic rifles and grenade launchers patrolled in the restive Harare townships of Highfield and Mbare.
 
The run-down districts of the capital are hotbeds of support for Tsvangirai and were at the center of several weeks of post-election violence in 2008, in which 200 people linked to his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were killed.
 
Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe (at L) and Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (at R). Zimbabwe will hold general elections on July 31.Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe (at L) and Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (at R). Zimbabwe will hold general elections on July 31.
x
Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe (at L) and Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (at R). Zimbabwe will hold general elections on July 31.
Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe (at L) and Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (at R). Zimbabwe will hold general elections on July 31.
This year's presidential and parliamentary race brings the curtain down on four years of fractious unity government. It has been marked by allegations of threats and intimidation by security forces but there have been no reports of violence.
 
With no reliable opinion polls, it is hard to tell whether 61-year-old Tsvangirai will succeed in his third attempt to unseat his 89-year-old rival, who has run the southern African nation since independence from Britain in 1980.
 
Both the MDC and Mugabe's ZANU-PF party predict landslide victories. However, it is possible neither leading candidate will emerge an outright winner, triggering a Sept. 11 run-off. That is a nightmare scenario for many of Zimbabwe's 13 million people who remember the 2008 violence.
 
Western election observers have been barred, leaving the task of independent oversight to 500 regional and 7,000 domestic monitors. The final results must be released within five days but may come sooner.
 
In an editorial in the domestic News Day newspaper and the Washington Post, Tsvangirai urged African monitors not to give the vote a seal of approval merely because they do not witness any bloodshed.
 
“Mugabe is the world's oldest leader and one of its longest-ruling dictators. He is fixing this election in a more sophisticated fashion than previous ZANU-PF campaigns of beatings, killings and intimidation,” the prime minister wrote.
 
“Mugabe's election-stealing antics have been documented throughout Zimbabwe and beyond. Yet the international community seems apathetic; perhaps Mugabe has been stealing elections for so long the world just rolls its eyes and moves on.”
 
Rallying supporters he calls “soldiers,” Mugabe has termed the election a “do or die” contest, suggesting he recognizes that his historical legacy is at stake.
 
Protracted crisis 'likely'
 
Given irregularities and problems that have dogged the election process so far, including failure to publish an updated voters' roll, the result is highly likely to be contested, raising the prospect of another long political stalemate.
 
In 2008, South Africa and other countries in the region brokered a unity government between Mugabe and Tsvangirai to break a deadlock caused by the MDC's withdrawal from a second-round runoff because of the violence and killings.
 
“A return to protracted political crisis, and possibly extensive violence, is likely,” the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based political risk think-tank, said in a report issued on Monday entitled “Mugabe's Last Stand”.
 
It also criticized the chaotic organization of the election.
 
Around a third of 63,000 police officers and civil servants allowed to vote two weeks early were unable to cast their ballots because voting materials did not turn up on time.
 
The existing list of the 6.3 million registered voters has also attracted criticism from the MDC and analysts.
 
In a study comparing the list to a 2012 census, the Research and Advocacy Group, a non-governmental organization, said young people - the main support base for Tsvangirai - were under-represented, while old people - more likely to be ZANU-PF supporters - were curiously numerous on the roll.
 
In particular, it cited the presence of more than 116,000 people aged over 100 and said that in almost a third of constituencies there were more registered voters than residents.
 
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has rejected charges the voters' register is a shambles and has accused critics of seeking to discredit the election out of political interests.
 
But the alleged irregularities, combined with openly partisan security forces and biased state media clearly backing Mugabe's ZANU-PF, have intensified doubts in Western capitals about declaring the elections free and far.
 
That verdict is crucial to the lifting of Western sanctions against Mugabe and his inner circle, a move that would allow Harare to normalize relations with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank and access the huge amounts of investment needed to rebuild its dilapidated economy.

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid