Monday, April 28, 2008

And the loser is . . .

The winner of Zimbabwe's disputed presidential election could be announced Tuesday, an an electoral commission spokesman said Monday, now that a partial recount has been completed, the Reuters international news service reported. The only remaining question appears to be whether Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai has more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff with President Robert Mugabe, whose 28-year reign appears to have ended. The MDC won a majority of seats in the country's parliament in the March 29 election, for the first time since independence from Britain in 1980, but release of the official presidential vote count has been delayed for a month. Tsvangirai has charged that the delay is due to Mugabe's interference in the vote count, a charge the president has denied. But Mugabe supporters have arrested members of the MDC and of an independent election monitoring group, and Tsvangirai has left the country. Mugabe's government has been blamed for the collapse of Zimbabwe's once-formidable economy, and inflation is now at 165,000 percent, the world's highest. The country also faces food and fuel shortages. Tsvangirai rejected a runoff, saying "the people have spoken," at a news conference in South Africa on Sunday. "Old man, go and have an honorable exit," Tsvangirai said in calling for Mugabe, 84, to leave office. Tsvangirai also said he has reached an agreement to work together in parliament with a breakaway faction of his party led by Arthur Mutambara. Maybe Mugabe is holding out for a deal like the one reached in Kenya, where the ruling party apparently lost the last election but managed to hold onto power by changing the constitution to bring opposition leaders into the government.

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