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Zimbabwe vote recount ordered

Latest update : 2008-04-13

Ballots from 23 constituencies in Zimbabwe's election are set to be recounted, according to an electoral official. The announcement came as regional leaders met in Zambia to try to resolve Zimbabwe's latest crisis.

HARARE, April 13 (Reuters) - Ballots from 23 constituencies
in Zimbabwe's election will be recounted in a week's time, an
electoral official said on Sunday, raising the possibility an
opposition victory in the parliamentary poll could be reversed.

The result of the March 29 presidential vote has still not
been announced but officials said more than a week ago that
President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party had lost control of
parliament for the first time in his 28-year rule.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says its
leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the presidential poll. It has
rejected any recount.

A Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) official, who asked
not to be named, said there would be recounts of the votes for
both presidential and parliamentary polls in 23 constituencies
where there were allegations of poll abuse.

The state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper said the recount would
be carried out on Saturday after 22 complaints over the polling
process by ZANU-PF and one by the MDC.

The MDC has a two-seat majority in the lower house of
parliament after the election but the combined opposition tally
totals 12 more than ZANU-PF.

The announcement came as regional leaders met in Zambia to
discuss the two-week delay in releasing the presidential
election result that has raised fears of violence in the
southern African nation, where the economy has collapsed.

The recount was likely to increase tension in Zimbabwe over
the delay. The MDC has accused Mugabe of trying to rig the vote
and intimidate its supporters with a systematic campaign of
violence by his militias.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told Reuters: "We have already
said that we will not accept any recount because for us that is
accepting rigged results. They had custody of the ballot boxes
for two weeks and they must have stuffed them with their votes."

Zimbabwe's High Court was due to rule on Monday on a MDC
application to force the electoral commission to release the
presidential result.



Many Zimbabweans had hoped the vote would begin a recovery
from the economic collapse, marked by the world's worst rate of
hyper-inflation at more than 100,000 percent.

A summit of the 14-nation Southern African Development
Community (SADC) in neighbouring Zambia overran by more than
five hours into the early hours of Sunday.

A Zambian official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters
the delay was caused by a disagreement over the wording of the
final communique.
"Some leaders feel that including the word crisis would be
inappropriate while others say the extraordinary (summit) in
itself shows there is a crisis in Zimbabwe," he said.

South African President Thabo Mbeki said after meeting
Mugabe en route to the summit that there was no election crisis.
This conflicted with the views of some other regional leaders.

Mugabe did not attend the meeting, but it was addressed by

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, SADC's current chairman,
called the summit after a chorus of international demands for
Mugabe to release the result.
"SADC can no longer continue to stand by and do nothing when
one of its members is experiencing political and economic
difficulties," he said in an opening speech.

Mbeki, who has consistently favoured a softer line with
Mugabe, said the election process was proceeding normally.
"I wouldn't describe that as a crisis," Mbeki told reporters
after his meeting with Mugabe in Harare.

"We have to wait for ZEC to release (the results)," said
Mbeki, echoing Mugabe's own stance on the unusually long delay.

The MDC and Western powers say Mugabe is holding back the
result so he can prepare for a run-off against Tsvangirai.

Mugabe dismissed a remark by British Prime Minister Gordon
Brown that the world was losing patience. "If Brown is the
world, sure, he will lose patience. I know Brown as a little
tiny dot on this planet," said Mugabe.


Date created : 2008-04-13