The United States is urging Zimbabwe's electoral commission to quickly release final results from Saturday's crucial elections. The State Department said delay only increases the possibility for mischief in the vote-counting process. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.
Officials here are joining other governments and Zimbabwean opposition figures in expressing concern about the slow pace of the reporting process from Saturday's election.
The Bush administration had cited, in advance of the voting, several possible irregularities that could preclude a free and fair election.
With only fragmentary results available, State Department Deputy Spokesman Tom Casey lamented the slow pace of the official tabulation.
He urged the Zimbabwean electoral commission to release full results, including those of the presidential election, as quickly as possible:
"We have pointed out some of the concerns we had entering this process that would make potential problems in the vote-counting of very serious concernm," said Tom Casey. "And for us, what is important is that we do not see any undue delay in this process. Certainly the opportunities for mischief increase the longer the delay is between the elections and the announcement of the vote."
Among problems cited by U.S. officials in the run-up to the vote were inaccurate voter lists, an over-abundance of postal ballots for police and security forces, and intimidation including the stationing of police in polling stations in breach of an election accord brokered by Zimbabwe's neighbors.
Earlier Monday, Spokesman Casey made a direct appeal to members of the electoral commission, dominated by pro-government figures, to put aside partisan sympathies and do the right thing - to follow the letter and spirit of the law and ensure an honest and accurate vote-count.
He said the 10 American diplomats who had been among election observers had been given generally broad access to polling stations and other sites. But he said it was unfortunate that the Harare government denied broader requests from non-governmental groups and others for a much more extensive international observer presence.
The presidential and parliamentary elections were widely seen as the most serious challenge to President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party in 28 years of increasingly authoritarian rule.
Casey said the Zimbabwean people have suffered greatly under Mr. Mugabe's leadership, including past instances where the will of the people has been thwarted. But he appealed for calm in the election aftermath, saying violence serves the interests of no one.