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The BBC's Allan Little
"Zimbabwe is tonight strangely poised"
 real 28k

Former British Statesman, Lord Carrington
"I think he has been there too long"
 real 28k

The BBC's Grant Ferrett reports
"The constitution allows Mugabe to appoint the cabinet as he sees fit"
 real 28k

Grace Kwinjeh, MDC Activist
"We have had areas where there has been massive intimidation"
 real 28k

Sunday, 25 June, 2000, 15:05 GMT 16:05 UK
Zimbabwe poll result warning
Queue of voters
Some voters waited in line for three hours to cast their ballot
A senior member of the Zimbabwean Government says President Robert Mugabe's ruling party, Zanu-PF, will stay in power whether or not it wins the election.

With polls approaching a close, party chairman Mr John Nkomo said the country's constitutional system allowed the president to choose his cabinet as he saw fit.

Mr Nkomo denied that this would amount to a rejection of the democratic will of Zimbabweans in the event of an opposition majority.

And he said the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would not achieve the two-thirds majority it needed to block presidential decisions.

For a second day running long queues formed outside polling booths and voting has continued to run smoothly despite a campaign marred by violence.

John Nkomo:
John Nkomo: Zanu-PF will keep power

Thirty people, mostly from the opposition MDC, were killed and there were reports of widespread intimidation.

The issue of land distribution in Zimbabwe has led to an increase in tension, with squatters occupying white-owned farms with the support of President Mugabe.

Turnout among Zimbabwe's five million voters was high on Saturday, which passed off with reports of some irregularities - but no serious incidents.

As polls opened again on Sunday in the capital, hundreds of people rushed to try to beat the queues and then resigned themselves to a long wait.

Election statistics
120 seats contested
5 million voters
5,000 polling stations
2 days of voting
Turnout so far: High

International observers say they continue to be pleased on the whole with the way the election is going.

Most observers have been allowed to remain with the ballot boxes overnight, narrowing the scope for fraud. First results are expected on Monday.

The president, who voted early on Saturday insisted that Zanu-PF party would see off the challenge from the newly-formed opposition MDC.

Mr Mugabe told reporters: "We are winning the elections. I hear that people are voting in their masses."

President Mugabe casts his vote
President Mugabe was among early voters

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai countered that he was confident of a majority but did not believe the election was fair.

Speaking on the BBC's Breakfast With Frost programme he said: "Given the violence it cannot be considered a free and fair poll."

But he added that he would work with Mr Mugabe. "The only route out of these elections is co-existence," he said.

A BBC correspondent says Zimbabweans are voting in numbers not seen since the independence elections of 1980.

All I want to do is get rid of the present gangsters

Former prime minister Ian Smith

Long queues stretched out from some polling stations, as people waited for up to three hours to vote. Many were mothers with babies strapped to their backs.

Some people were even reported to have slept outside to be sure of their place in the queue.

Election officials said many polling stations had been swamped by the demand.

The head of a network of local monitors, Kumbi Hodzi, said there had been isolated incidents of intimidation in rural constituencies, and some monitors had been prevented by Zanu-PF supporters from guarding ballot boxes on the night before the poll.

Morgan and Susan Tsvangirai
Morgan Tsvangirai and wife Susan vote together in Buhera

The MDC itself reported 50 incidents of harrassment and intimidation, including one in which it said farm workers were met at a polling station and taken to a camp to be "re-educated" before casting their votes.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, casting his vote in the town of Buhera, praised the high turnout.

He said people clearly wanted change, and were prepared to vote for it despite the intimidation they had suffered.

The country's last white prime minister, Ian Smith, was also among the early voters, casting his ballot at the Belgravia Sports Club in Harare.

He told reporters: "All I want to do is get rid of the present gangsters. We have only got a weekend to go, and then we will know whether we have saved our country or not."

Mr Mugabe will be hoping that his party's traditional supporters in rural areas will vote in sufficient numbers to outweigh the opposition's advantage in towns and cities.

Correspondents say the MDC has a realistic chance of winning a majority of the 120 parliamentary seats being contested.

But, as president, Mr Mugabe has a big advantage - he is allowed to pick another 30 MPs to make up the 150-seat parliament. Currently, only three seats are held by opposition MPs.

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See also:

24 Jun 00 | Africa
High turnout in Zimbabwe poll
17 Jun 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
The politics of fear
16 Jun 00 | Africa
Zimbabwe parties: Who's who?
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