Zimbabwe presidential election to continue in runoff
Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai
Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai

.- After long delays, the electoral body of Zimbabwe said on Friday that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai won more votes than President Robert Mugabe in the March 29 election.  However, having failed to win a majority, Tsvangirai now faces a run-off election against Mugabe.

According to Reuters, Tsvangirai’s opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has protested the announcement, calling the result “scandalous daylight robbery.”   The MDC claims Tsvangirai won more than 50 percent in the election.

Chief Elections Officer Lovemore Sekeramayi said Tsvangirai won 47.9 percent of the vote, while Mugabe, who has remained in power for 18 years, won 43.2 percent, Reuters reports.

Sekeramayi said the date of the runoff election will be announced by the committee.  By law, the runoff must take place within 21 days of the announcement of the primary results. 

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa claimed that the verification of the vote had not been done properly.

"This whole thing is a scandal, scandalous daylight robbery and everyone knows that," he told Reuters. "We won this election outright, and yet what we are being given here as the outcome are some fudged figures meant to save Mugabe and ZANU-PF."

The opposition has accused the government of delaying results to engage in vote fraud.

Initial MDC polling estimates had given Tsvangirai 50.3 percent of the vote.  However, independent estimates and estimates from the ruling ZANU-PF party suggested he would not win an outright majority.

While the MDC had announced that Tsvangirai would not enter a runoff election, he will reportedly take part despite the announcement.

The delay in election results has heightened fears of violence and persecution by Zimbabwean security forces of MDC supporters has been reported.  Zimbabwe has suffered economic ruin under Mugabe since the country’s independence from Britain in 1980.

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