Ruling on Zimbabwe Election Results Expected
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
And I'm Renee Montagne. Voters in Zimbabwe might well be wondering if they're ever going to find out who won their presidential election. The government last week released results of the parliamentary part of the election, but has yet to give out the tally for the presidential election. Zimbabwe's ruling party believes it got enough votes to force a run off. The candidate for the main opposition party is coming out nearly every day saying he won and insisting he should be declared president. We go now to NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital. And Ofeibea, the high court there is supposed to rule today on an opposition petition calling for the immediate release of this election results. What is the latest on that?
OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON: Indeed. That was what we were told that this morning, Monday, we would hear from the high court. But that has been delayed until tomorrow. We're now expecting the judge's ruling tomorrow, but it seems that the court has said it has jurisdiction to decide on the opposition's petition to force the release of these presidential election results. So that's already one step forward, but we won't get the outcome of whether they're going to consider this urgently until tomorrow.
MONTAGNE: Nine days since the election was held. The votes seem to have been counted. What's the problem with releasing the tally?
QUIST-ARCTON: Renee, Zimbabweans are asking themselves what on earth is going on? We voted Saturday, 29 March, and we're still waiting to find out who our president is. Now President Robert Mugabe's party has apparently challenged some of the parliamentary results, and is also saying that there have been some irregularities in the president vote. So Zanu Piaf, his party is saying that the election results, the announcement of the election results should be delayed. But the opposition is saying absolutely not.
MONTAGNE: Now, the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, says the government is using this time - it's stalling as - in order to prepare a campaign of violence. What does he mean by that?
QUIST-ARCTON: Well, he says the government is going to unleash militias and security forces and is preparing war against the people. And although there is security present in the streets - we saw outside the high court today riot policemen sort of gently driving past them, then a few of them walking past. And we have seen other security agents on the street. What the opposition is saying is the government is using all state's resources and resorting to tactics that it used in the old days to intimidate the people, intimidate the opposition, and possibly even use violence as we have this political electoral hiatus. Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader who says he has won, incidentally, says that the president now must dialogue with him, but with a view to his graceful exit and departure. So we've got this war of words on between the government and the opposition, but no results.
MONTAGNE: Now how is this drama playing out among the people of Zimbabwe? I mean, what's going to happen next?
QUIST-ARCTON: Rather nervously, because there's a lot of uncertainly. And yesterday, and this was really a sort of mirror image of 2000, after President Mugabe lost the referendum trying to entrench his power, the - well, they call themselves war veterans. But anyway, militants started seizing land of white farmers, white-owned farms. Now this is really important, because they were the backbone of the economy here. And when we had these land invasions, as they were called, by those who fought the liberation war, the war veterans, it absolutely destroyed the economy of the country. And that's what Zimbabweans are saying they don't want to see again.
They want to rebuild the economy. That has been destroyed, and they say be President Mugabe, those who oppose him. So they're very worried about reports that militants are out again doing the same thing that brought the country to its knees. So there's a big question mark at the moment, and we'll see what the high court has to say tomorrow. Meanwhile, the opposition is saying that the United Nations, the African Union and the Southern African region must intervene to stop any cheating and any more delays in the declaration of these results.
MONTAGNE: Thank you, Ofeibea. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe.
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