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AU calls Zimbabwe elections ‘credible’ despite flaws

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-08-02

The African Union’s observer mission called Zimbabwe's elections “free” and “credible,” on Friday, despite many reports of irregularities. No official results are available yet but President Robert Mugabe’s party has already claimed victory.

The African Union says it is reserving its judgment on whether Zimbabwe’s elections were systematically flawed until details of the disputed vote are clarified.

The head of the AU’s 70-member observer mission, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, said Friday that voting was peaceful, “free,” and “credible.”

But he also said that observers noted “incidences that could have been avoided and even tended to have breached the law.”

Nonetheless, “we do not believe that these incidents will amount to the results not reflecting the will of the people,” he added.

The mission is asking election authorities in Zimbabwe to investigate reports that large numbers of eligible voters were turned away from polling stations in Wednesday’s vote.

It is also asking the election commission to account for the millions of extra ballots, FRANCE 24’s Ayesha Ismail reported from Harare. The country currently has 6 million registered voters, while 8.7 million ballots were printed.

“It’s very strange that, having listed these irregularities, the African Union is still giving the elections a thumb-up,” Ismail added.

The party of President Robert Mugabe is claiming a landslide victory. The 89-year-old Mugabe is Africa's oldest leader. He has ruled for 33 years already and is running for office for the seventh and perhaps last time.

His main challenger, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, has alleged massive rigging and declared the election “null and void.”

Releasing unofficial results early in Zimbabwe is illegal, and the authorities have said they would arrest anybody who made premature claims about the outcome.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-08-02

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