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Page last updated at 10:34 GMT, Monday, 31 March 2008 11:34 UK

Zimbabwe announces first results

Zimbabweans read draft election results posted at a polling station in Harare on 30 March 2008
Draft results were posted outside polling stations

Zimbabwe's election commission has announced the delayed first results of presidential and legislative elections.

The 24 parliamentary constituencies were equally split between President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa has lost his seat, east of Harare.

The delay in announcing results had fuelled speculation about vote rigging, after the MDC claimed its leader Morgan Tsvangirai had defeated Mr Mugabe.

Results have been posted outside individual polling stations.

MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti says Mr Tsvangirai has won 60% of the presidential vote, against 30% for Mr Mugabe, based on more than half of the 210 constituencies.

However, Zanu-PF spokesman Bright Matonga told the BBC he was confident of victory for Mr Mugabe.

Riot police have been patrolling the capital, Harare, and other urban areas and residents have been told to stay indoors.

BBC contributors from around the country say:

  • In Harare, a new group called the Independent Results Centre says Mr Tsvangirai has won 55% of the vote in the presidential race, against 37% for Mr Mugabe and 5% for independent candidate Simba Makoni;
  • Zanu-PF security officials met in Harare to decide who should tell Mr Mugabe he has lost;
  • But people are worried that the results are being rigged;
  • In the southern town of Masvingo, MDC supporters are no longer celebrating, after reports said Zanu-PF had won in areas intially believed to have gone to the opposition;
  • In the north-western town of Hwange, people are anxiously listening to radios, in case results are broadcast but not everyone can afford their own radio, so they have to gather around other people's sets. But public gatherings of more than four people are illegal under Zimbabwean law, so they disperse as soon as they see any police officers;
  • In the south-western city of Bulawayo, many people have stayed at home in case of violence when the results are announced - They are afraid of not being able to find transport to get home from work.

'Mammoth exercise'

Presidential, House of Assembly, Senate and local elections were all held on Saturday, and election officials say that this is why results have been slow to come.

ELECTION RESULTS SO FAR
Parliamentary constituencies
MDC: 12
Zanu-PF: 12
Yet to declare: 186
Presidential results
None so far
Winner needs more than 50% to avoid run-off

"It's an absolute necessity that all results be meticulously analysed at this stage," George Chiweshe, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, said earlier.

"The commission is aware that these results are eagerly awaited both within and outside our borders. However, it should be borne in mind that it is a mammoth national exercise," he added.

But Noel Kututwa, the head of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, said: "The delay in announcing these results is fuelling speculation that there could be something going on."

Separately, Marwick Khumalo, who headed the Pan-African Parliamentary Observer Mission, expressed concern that the delays would "start causing problems in a country".

Poll monitors from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said the elections had been "peaceful and credible".

But two SADC members from South Africa refused to sign a generally positive preliminary report of the mission, with one of them calling the polls "deeply flawed".

Western observers were banned from the election.

'Swept the board'

Of the first six parliamentary results declared - Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF won three of them, all in its rural strongholds.

MDC supporters celebrate after reports of an early polls lead in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Some MDC supporters were celebrating on Sunday

No results were posted outside polling stations in Mr Mugabe's home town of Zvimba, southwest of Harare - prompting speculation that Zanu-PF might have lost at least one parliamentary seat there.

A spokesman for Mr Makoni told the BBC News website that the MDC had "swept the board" in the parliamentary election.

Government spokesman George Charamba warned the MDC against an early victory claim.

"It is called a coup d'etat and we all know how coups are handled."

Rigging fears

A British Foreign Office minister, Mark Malloch-Brown, said it was "quite likely" that President Mugabe had lost the election in Zimbabwe, despite "massive pre-election day cheating".

I understand the counting of the votes started soon after the polling stations were closed. So what puzzles me is the delay
Zvishavane, Dhewa

A candidate needs more than 50% in the presidential vote to avoid a run-off in three weeks' time.

Across the country on Saturday, there were reports of voters not being allowed to cast ballots.

But many voters told the BBC the system had worked efficiently and the atmosphere was good.

After voting in Harare, Mr Mugabe, who is seeking a sixth term, said: "We don't rig elections. I cannot sleep with my conscience if I have rigged."

The MDC says it is fighting to save Zimbabwe's economy.

The country has the world's highest inflation rate, at more than 100,000%, and just one adult in five is believed to have a regular job.


video and audio news
Controversy surrounding Zimbabwe's elections



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