Zimbabwe's leading opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, has released evidence of the massive rigging it alleges took place in last month's parliamentary elections.

Almost two weeks after the March 31 poll, the Movement for Democratic Change has released a 56-page dossier detailing how the election was "stolen." The document also lists a number of demands and recommendations on the way forward for the country.

Addressing a news conference in Harare, MDC Secretary-General Welshman Ncube said the party is adopting a two-pronged approach in responding to the election result. In addition to taking 13 selected cases of what it calls massive rigging to the electoral court, he said the MDC is devising an as yet unspecified program of political action that will be taken should the government ignore its demands.

"Regardless of whether we have got a response to these demands that program of political action is being worked out and when it is finalized it will be implemented," he said.

Top of the MDC's demands is a new constitution. The party also demands that the ruling party stop using food as a political weapon, and the amendment of laws limiting freedom of assembly and expression.

The MDC listed the lack of an independent electoral commission, an outdated voters roll that the government refuses to make available in electronic form to the opposition, and lopsided coverage in the state-owned media in favor of the ruling ZANU-PF party as some of the irregularities.

People stand in line to vote in parliamentary elections
The party also says its election agents were denied access to many polling stations, that voters totaling about 10 percent of the total number of ballots cast were turned away, and that counting started much later than required by the law. It also noted discrepancies in the numbers issued by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission before vote counting ended.

Mr. Ncube said because of the endorsement of the election by South African observer missions and that country's support of what he called President Mugabe's misrule, the MDC no longer views South Africa as an honest broker in the solving of the Zimbabwean crisis.

He said the 13-member Southern African Development Community can and should play the leading role.

"In our view the country which chairs SADC should actually play the leading role in this particular case, so that up until August this year it should be the responsibility of Mauritius to take responsibility for facilitating Zimbabwean dialogue if any," said Mr. Ncube.

The MDC says the will of the Zimbabwean people has once again been denied. Zimbabwe, facing its worst economic and political crises since independence on April 18, 1980, held equally disputed polls in 2000 and 2002. Both elections were widely condemned as neither free nor fair by some local and international observers.