Mugabe's party to challenge still unknown presidential vote results
( dpa ) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, just defeated in parliamentary elections, has demanded that the state-controlled Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) carry out a recount of the yet-to-be-announced presidential election results.
According to the state-controlled Sunday Mail, Mugabe's party claims "errors and miscalculation in the compilation of the results" from last weekend's elections that could have affected the outcome.
Zimbabweans have been waiting for eight days for the result of the presidential poll. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won the vote for the lower house of parliament, relegating Zanu-PF to the status of minority party for the first time in 28 years.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has also claimed outright victory in the presidential election but an independent estimate produced by an election NGO showed neither Tsvangirai nor Mugabe winning outright, pointing to the need for a runoff.
Lawyers for the MDC were due to appear in the High Court in Harare later Sunday to seek a court order forcing ZEC to release the results. On Saturday, police, one of them wearing Zanu-PF regalia, barred them from entering the court to submit their application.
The Sunday Mail quoted "notes" submitted by Zanu-PF lawyers to the ZEC, saying they would challenge the presidential results on the basis that election officers in four constituencies in the south-west "committed errors of miscounting that are so glaring as to prejudice not just our client's (Mugabe) candidate, but also (in some instances) his co-contestants."
It said that the errors were reflected in differences between the official result forms posted outside polling stations, and results collated at the constituency level.
The paper said "some" polling officers had been arrested following the party's claim.
On Saturday Tsvangirai warned of violence in the event of a runoff, which the constitution says must be held within 21 days of voting, accusing Zanu-PF of "preparing a war against the people of Zimbabwe" and appealing for the African Union, United Nations and Zimbabwe's southern African neighbours to intervene.
South African President Thabo Mbeki, a longtime mediator in Zimbabwe, said the situation was still "manageable."
On Friday liberation war veterans loyal to Mugabe vowed to defend Zimbabwe against what they called the threat a white "invasion" and accused white farmers of surveying farms taken from them under the country's land reform programme for possible reappropriation.
The opposition and Commercial Farmers Union have rubbished the claims.
In 2000 the war veterans kickstarted Zimbabwe's disastrous land reform programme by invading and seizing white-owned farms.
The Sunday Independent reported that a new bout of land invasions had begun, saying war veterans had invaded three farms and a tourist lodge in the town of Masvingo.