AU poll team in surprise U-turn
4/7/2005 7:11:45 AM (GMT +2)
IN an extraordinary volte face, the African Union (AU) observer team, which had initially hailed Zimbabwe's just-ended Parliamentary poll as free and fair, has called for investigations into alleged electoral fraud.
ZANU PF won 78 of the 120 contested seats in last week's polls, with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) polling 41 while the remaining seat went to an independent candidate.
The MDC, which grabbed 57 seats in the 2000 parliamentary election, has alleged rampant rigging of the polls, claiming it has unearthed discrepancies in 72 of the 120 contested constituencies.
The AU observer team said while it commended the peaceful conduct of the elections, it noted certain concerns that required appropriate attention, among them the large number of potential voters turned away from polling stations and political agents playing a passive role in the conduct of the polls.
"The MDC has alleged that there are serious discrepancies in the official results released by the ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) for several constituencies. It is hoped that both the ZEC and the ESC (Electoral Supervisory Commission) will promptly look into the allegations with a view of assuring the Zimbabwean people of the authenticity of the results of the elections," reads part of the statement issued by the AU.
"In addition to the foregoing concerns, the AU observer team will include in its final report recommendations on technical and administrative issues that could further enhance the transparency of the Zimbabwean electoral process and the verifiability of its outcomes."
Kwadwo Afari-Gyan headed the AU mission, which yesterday was still in Harare monitoring the post election period slightly marred by pockets of violence in Harare allegedly by disgruntled MDC youths irked by what the opposition alleged was "day-light robbery" by ZANU PF.
President Robert Mugabe cherry-picked 23 African nations, three Asian and one European country, Russia, to observe the polls, which the majority have declared as free and fair, much to the chagrin of the M DC.
The South African and Southern African Development Community (SADC) observer teams, criticised by the MDC of pre-judging the polls two weeks before the polling day, were in the forefront of endorsing the polls
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