Opposition Slams Calls for Runoff in Zimbabwe
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
I'm Melissa Block.
Results are finally out for Zimbabwe's presidential elections. Five weeks after the vote, the Electoral Commission has reported that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai won more votes than President Robert Mugabe. The exact tally was reported as 47.9 percent for Tsvangirai and 43.2 percent for Mugabe. That means a runoff election would be necessary. The opposition immediately challenged the results saying Tsvangirai won the election outright. The Bush administration said the tally has serious credibility problems because of the long delay.
NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton has more.
OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON: For weeks, there was talk of a rerun, a recount, a review and a runoff - all the Rs, except the results. Now, the results are out, pointing to a runoff, but the political deadlock continues in Zimbabwe. The opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai won the first round, beating veteran President Robert Mugabe. But the Electoral Commission said Tsvangirai did not get the 50 percent plus one votes needed to avoid a second round.
Opposition's spokesman Nelson Chamisa dismissed the outcome as a clear scandal and criminal. He said that independent vote tallies showed that Morgan Tsvangirai clearly won the election, and now was preparing to form a new government. However, President Mugabe's deputy information minister and ZANU-PF Party spokesman Bright Matonga said there would be a runoff and that Zimbabwe's octogenarian leader was preparing for the second round.
Mr. BRIGHT MATONGA (Deputy Information Minister; Spokesman, ZANU-PF Party): President Mugabe is our candidate. He's going to contest, and we're looking forward to a runoff. We are following our constitution, not our people's wishes.
QUIST-ARCTON: So, Zimbabweans went to vote for their new president on March 29th, but five weeks later, seem no closer to knowing who that might be. Since then, they've had to put up with more economic hardship, plus painful evidence of a campaign of torture, beatings and intimidation, allegedly mounted by Mugabe's supporters.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR News, Johannesburg.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.