More African monitors give qualified thumbs-up to Zimbabwe polls

Other News Materials 1 April 2008 00:06 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - A team of 19 monitors from the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) on Monday gave a qualified thumbs-up to Saturday's election in Zimbabwe, in which President Robert Mugabe's 28-year rule hangs in the balance.

The PAP election observation mission told a press conference in Harare it had noticed several irregularities but said these "were not so major as to compromise the flow of the electoral process."

"However, the mission is concerned that two days after the closure of the polls, the overall outcome of the elections remains unknown," Marwick Khumalo, the chairman of the mission, said.

"The post-election phase, including the announcement of results, remains a concern and needs to be closely monitored," he added.

Among the irregularities noted by the PAP observers were the handing out by Mugabe of tractors, ploughs and other gifts on the campaign trail.

"The timing of such generosity was unfortunate," said Khulamo, who also decried statements by the country's security chiefs vowing they would not salute a Western "puppet" - Mugabe's term for his two main opponents - MOrgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and former finance minister Simba Makoni.

"These statements violate the professional ethics of the security forces and goes against the spirit of the democratic electoral process by its intimidatory nature," said Khumalo.

The Movement for Democratic Change has claimed an outright victory in the polls, but official results are still pending.