US discusses Zimbabwe with Zambia, calls for election results

Other News Materials 27 April 2008 17:39 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - The top US official for Africa, Jendayi Frazer, held talks Sunday with Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa over the post-election crisis in Zimbabwe, where the opposition appeared to have held onto parliament in a vote recount.

The chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), George Chiweshe, said that with 18 parliamentary seats recounted out of 23 that were contested, there had been "no major changes so far - just variation in figures."

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won 109 seats to the 97 for President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF in the 210-seat House of Assembly in the first count of votes from the March 29 election.

The final results of the parliamentary recount were expected by Monday, but the ZEC's statement indicated that Zanu-PF had not gained the nine seats it needed to win back its majority.

On Monday, the ZEC was also due to begin verifying and collating results from a recount of votes cast in the presidential election.

Zimbabweans have been waiting four weeks to know the outcome of that contest.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai claims he ended Mugabe's 28-year rule, a claim Zanu-PF rejects, saying neither Tsvangirai nor Mugabe won an outright majority and that a run-off is needed.

The MDC has rejected the need for a run-off, as has Assistant Secretary of State Frazer, who declared Tsvangirai the "clear winner."

Frazer called Sunday for southern African leaders to pressure the ZEC to release the presidential results.

She was speaking after talks with Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa in Lusaka.

Frazer has also met with South African officials and Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos in recent days.

Meanwhile, in South Africa, where dockworkers led a successful boycott of a Chinese arms ship destined for Zimbabwe, pressure was being heaped on President Thabo Mbeki's government to take a harder line with Mugabe.

Speaking on the country's Freedom Day, well-known activist Winnie Madikizela-Mandela said, "If the Zimbabweans are not free, we (South Africans) are not free."

"We wish that they would stop the violence in Zimbabwe," she said on South African radio, two days after ruling African National Congress president Jacob Zuma described Zimbabwe "a police state."

The MDC claims over 15 of its members have been killed in an orgy of violence by Zanu-PF youth militia and soldiers against people suspected of "voting wrongly."

Reports of revenge attacks by frustrated MDC supporters against the police and military are also starting to surface.

Human Rights Watch said Friday it had documented several incidents of "retaliatory violence by MDC supporters" but that "the scope of these incidents bears no comparison to the widespread state-sponsored violence by ZANU-PF and its allies."

On Friday, armed police raided MDC headquarters in Harare, arresting over 200 people - mostly people displaced by violence in rural areas.

By Sunday, some of the detainees with babies had been released but the rest had still not been brought to court.

An election-observation non-governmental organization, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), was also searched Friday for "subversive material."

As the international furore over the Zimbabwean situation continues, South Africa's ambassador to the United Nations Security Council, Dumisani Kumalo, said the body would hold its first discussions on the post-election impasse in Zimbabwe this week.

It was not clear which of the 15 council members had placed the issue on the agenda.

International rights groups and Britain have been calling for an arms embargo on Zimbabwe after the Chinese attempt to deliver arms to the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.