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Mugabe's party loses parliamentary vote

Latest update : 2008-04-27

Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party lost control of parliament for the first time in 28 years, according to official results after a partial vote recount. The recount is set to be completed by Monday. (Report: B. Harris)

Zimbabwe's main opposition movement has won a historic victory over President Robert Mugabe's ruling party, official results showed on Saturday, but the outcome of the presidential vote remained unknown.

The results in 18 of the 23 constituencies where ballots were being double-checked stayed the same after the recount of a March 29 vote, officials said, re-affirming victory for the Movement for Democratic Change.

The remaining five constituencies were not sufficient for the Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwean African National Union -- Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), which has controlled parliament uninterruptedly since 1980, to gain a majority of seats.

Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga told AFP that the results of the recount showed the electoral system was "transparent", saying: "The recounting was not meant to try and offset the outcome."

Electoral commission chairman George Chiweshe said there had been no "major changes" in the parliamentary results and that a recount of votes in the presidential election also held on March 29 should be completed by Monday.

"We trust that by Monday, April 28 this process will have been concluded... leading to the announcement of the result of the presidential election," Chiweshe told reporters in the capital Harare.

"But I can't say exactly when the results will be coming," he continued.

Four weeks after the elections, no results from the presidential vote have been released despite mounting international pressure.

The police have also detained more than 200 hundred opposition activists and raided the offices of the country's main independent election monitoring body.

The MDC has accused the authorities of delaying tactics in order to mount a campaign of intimidation against the opposition, saying that 15 of its activists have been killed so far in politically-motivated attacks.

The authorities have not confirmed any of the deaths claimed by the opposition, dismissing the reports as "lies" aimed at stirring up unrest and have accused MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai of treason.

Tsvangirai says he won an outright majority in the presidential election over the 84-year-old Mugabe. Mugabe supporters say no candidate won more than 50 percent and there should be a run-off.

Britain and the United States have put pressure on Mugabe to concede defeat, with US Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer arguing that post-election violence makes a second round of voting impossible.

In Britain, Prime Minister Gordon Brown condemned the spiralling violence in Zimbabwe on Saturday and pledged intensified international action following a planned UN Security Council debate next week.

"I condemn the violence against those who voted for change. Their voices must be heard," Brown said in a statement. He has previously said that "no one believes" Mugabe won the election.

Mugabe, a former guerrilla leader and a hero of Africa's national liberation movements, has presided over a period of sharp economic decline in Zimbabwe in recent years, with inflation officially put at 165,000 percent -- the highest in the world.

Frazer, the main US envoy for Africa, is on a tour of the region aimed at cutting off support for Mugabe. She said on Thursday that Tsvangirai won a clear victory and should head any new government.

Frazer met Tsvangirai on Thursday and has also held talks with South African officials and Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos, a Mugabe ally. She was due to meet Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa on Sunday.

Meanwhile Angola on Friday authorised a Chinese ship loaded with arms destined for Zimbabwe to dock in Luanda but said it would not be allowed to unload the weapons following an international outcry.

Port officials said on Saturday the ship had not yet arrived in Luanda.

The United States earlier urged China to turn back the shipment of assault rifle ammunition, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar rounds amid fears that the arms could be used for repression by Zimbabwean security forces.

Britain has called for an international arms embargo on Zimbabwe.

Date created : 2008-04-27