Mugabe party surges towards victory amid calls for calm

August 3, 2013 4:09 am
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The head of the SADC observer mission Bernard Membe speaks during a press conference in Harare, on August 2, 2013/AFP
The head of the SADC observer mission Bernard Membe speaks during a press conference in Harare, on August 2, 2013/AFP

, HARARE, August 3 – Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe looked poised to win a seventh term in office after romping to victory in parliamentary polls dismissed as fraudulent by the opposition, as the head of the UN led calls for calm.

Full results were expected later Saturday but Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party said it had already won the 140 seats in parliament required to press ahead with controversial amendments to the constitution.

“We have already gone beyond two-thirds. It’s a super majority,” a top party official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

With 186 of 210 constituencies officially counted after Wednesday’s disputed poll, Mugabe’s party already had a commanding lead, winning 137 seats in parliament.

Party spokesman Rugare Gumbo told AFP: “Our opponents don’t know what hit them”, adding that Mugabe could win “70 to 75 percent” in the presidential vote.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has described the vote as a “sham” and a “huge fraud” and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has vowed not to accept the result, sparking fears of a repeat of bloody violence that marked the aftermath of the 2008 election.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged both rivals to send “clear messages of calm” to supporters as tensions mount.

Ban hopes that the broadly “calm and peaceful atmosphere” of election day “will prevail during the vote counting and throughout the completion of the electoral process,” said his spokesman Martin Nesirky.

The influential 15 member southern African bloc SADC also implored “all Zimbabweans to exercise restraint, patience and calm”.

All eyes were now on the MDC which was expected to release a statement on Saturday following a two day meeting.

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