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Zimbabwe election officials: ‘305,000 denied vote’

VOTE-RIGGING CLAIMS: Robert Mugabe, re-elected Zimbabwe's president, speaks at a press conference last week (PA)

ALMOST ONE-THIRD of a million voters were turned away during Zimbabwe’s national elections last week, according to the country’s Electoral Commission.

It says about 305,000 people were unable to cast their votes – the first official figure that has emerged since President Robert Mugabe was re-elected and his Zanu-PF party won a two-thirds majority in parliament.

Mugabe won 61 per cent of the presidential vote, but his rival Morgan Tsvangirai, who claimed 34 per cent, said the election was a “farce” and “sham”, while saying the vote was rigged.

Overall, Mugabe gained 938,085 more votes than the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader – Tsvangirai’s party is planning to dispute the election result in the country’s court system.

Before the election, Mugabe said he would step down from power after 33 years as president if defeated in the polls.

Zanu-PF denied allegations of electoral fraud, claiming they won their landslide victory fairly.

Mugabe was quoted by AFP news agency as saying: “We are very happy that we have dealt the enemy a blow, and the enemy is not Tsvangirai.

“Tsvangirai is a mere part of the enemy. The enemy is he who is behind Tsvangirai. Who is behind the MDC? The British and their allies. Those are the ones who were the real enemies.”

Zimbabwe’s president has a long history of blaming foreign forces, particularly the former colonial power, of trying to remove him from power.

Observers claim it is a tactic Mugabe uses to deflect attention from the crippling economic woes and domestic problems experienced by ordinary Zimbabwean citizens.

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