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Thursday, 14 March, 2002, 08:41 GMT
Analysis: Mugabe keeps his silence
Robert Mugabe
Mugabe has not reacted publicly to his victory
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By Grant Ferrett
BBC correspondent on the Zimbabwe border
line

A day after the results were announced in Zimbabwe's controversial presidential elections, anticipation is increasing over when the victor, Robert Mugabe, will deliver his first public reaction.

There has been a heated international response to the outcome - the United States has led the condemnation, with President Bush describing the poll as flawed.

Zimbabwean casts his vote
The election has been condemned as a sham
At the other end of the spectrum, the Kenyan leader, Daniel Arap Moi, sent his congratulations.

While the controversy rages around him, Mr Mugabe is remaining quiet.

Expectations that he would make an address on state-run television on Wednesday were confounded.

There is still no official word on when he might speak.

It could simply be that the 78-eight-year-old leader is waiting to take account of local and international reaction before commenting, or that he has come under pressure from fellow southern African leaders not to inflame an already tense situation.

Equally, it could be an assertion of power.

The veteran leader will speak when it suits him, rather than when he is expected to do so.

If history is anything to go by, Mr Mugabe is likely to adopt a statesman-like tone.

Zanu-PF supporters
Zanu-PF's victory has not been accepted by the opposition

In 1980, after winning Zimbabwe's first democratic election, he won international acclaim for his conciliatory remarks, urging a country still emerging from civil war to forgive and forget.

After the bitterly fought parliamentary elections two years ago, he congratulated Zimbabweans, praising their commitment to democracy.

But the atmosphere even since then has been poisoned by a sustained campaign of intimidation and violence by government supporters.

The opposition does not recognise the election result, and Zimbabwe faces further international sanctions.

Short of offering to form a government of national unity, there is little Mr Mugabe can say to heal the wounds of his scarred and impoverished country, and after the rhetoric of recent months, the chances of that appear slim.


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See also:

14 Mar 02 | Africa
Divisions grow over Zimbabwe poll
13 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Straw attacks Mugabe tactics
13 Mar 02 | Africa
Africa backs Mugabe win
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