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EU Calls Zimbabwe Election 'A Sham'

The European Commission described Zimbabwe's presidential runoff on Friday as a "sham" and said it does not recognize the election or its outcome as legitimate. Tendai Maphosa has more in this report for VOA from London.

The European Union has joined the chorus of condemnation of the Zimbabwean government's decision to go ahead with Friday's runoff presidential election with President Mugabe as the sole candidate. VOA spoke with European Commission spokesman John Clancy.

"We continue to make a very clear statement that these elections seen today in Zimbabwe are simply not legitimate," Clancy said. "These are hollow elections and if as is of course expected that Mr. Mugabe becomes yet again the de facto president of his country because of this sham election, it's a hollow victory following on from a very hollow election, this is not reflecting the democratic will of the Zimbabwean people."

The election became a one-man race after the withdrawal of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who said he was withdrawing because of harassment and violence against his party and supporters.

Tsvangirai won the most votes in the presidential election on March 29, but the Zimbabwe Election Commission said he did not gain an outright majority. The MDC also won the parliamentary elections and most local government elections.

The opposition win triggered a violent campaign by supporters of Mr. Mugabe's Zanu-PF party that has left dozens of MDC supporters dead, hundreds maimed and thousands displaced. Tsvangirai himself was arrested numerous times as he tried to campaign. His party's secretary general Tendai Biti was released on bail Thursday after being locked up for two weeks. He has been charged with treason, which carries the death penalty in Zimbabwe.

In Japan, Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told reporters Friday he would propose that the European Union consider withdrawing its ambassadors from Zimbabwe.

According to the French news agency (AFP) Frattini, who is in Japan for a G8 meeting, said he would submit the proposal to France, which on July 1st takes over the rotating European Union presidency.

Tsvangirai's withdrawal prompted calls for the Zimbabwean government to call off the election from western and African countries but Mr. Mugabe insisted on the poll going ahead.