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Credibility Of Poll Seriously Compromised - Zimbabwe Monitors

posted 1 Aug 2013, 04:10 by Sam Mbale

An independent election monitor group in Zimbabwe says the credibility of the presidential vote was "seriously compromised" by irregularities on polling day. Residents of the highly contested south-eastern town of Mtare say they are eagerly waiting for the announcement of the victor.

HARAREZIMBABWE (AUGUST 1, 2013) (REUTERS) - Zimbabwe's leading domestic election monitoring agency cried foul on Thursday (August 1) over the July 31 presidential elections, saying the credibility of the vote was "seriously compromised" by irregularities on polling day.

Officials from the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) said urban voters, who mainly favour Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, had been turned away from polling stations in their thousands.

Conversely, only a small number had been prevented from voting in the countryside, where President Robert Mugabe has most support, ZESN deputy chairperson Irene Peterson said.

"Generally the environment was relatively calm and peaceful. Based on the empirical reports from our observers, regardless of the outcome, the credibility of the 2013 harmonised elections is seriously compromised by a systematic effort to disenfranchise urban voters, up to a million voters," she said.

Peterson added that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission would need to respond to rising concerns.

"There are issues that need to be answered by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. What we are doing is we are pointing out those issues and areas which are of concern and we wait to hear from Zimbabwe Electoral Commissionwhat the response is to those issues so that people's minds can be brought to ease."

Residents of Zimbabwe's highly contested south-eastern town of Mtare said they were eagerly waiting for the final results of the election.

Mugabe's ruling party ZANU-PF claimed landslide victory on Thursday prompting the Tsvangirai's opposition MDC to cry foul saying the poll was a "monumental fraud".

One local resident, John Sithole, said he believed the elections were free and fair.

"I think maybe whatever comes out is free and fair, I think the process was free and fair and I think what comes out should be something that we should be ready to accept," said Sithole.

"We have to wait for the results, but from what I am hearing and the other rumours it seems it is a 50/50," said Nathan Sithole, another local resident.

Zimbabweans voted in large numbers on Wednesday in a fiercely contested election pitting veteran President Robert Mugabe against Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who has vowed to push Africa's oldest leader into retirement after 33 years in power.