Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has declared the Wednesday’s elections in the country as ‘null and void’, raising fears of another crisis in the southern African nation.
Tsvangirai, the main challenger to President Robert Mugabe at the presidential polls, told a news conference here on Thursday that the outcome of the voting would be invalid due to several irregularities.
He listed some of the shortcomings as lack of transparency in the printing of the ballot papers as well as alleged intimidation and rigging by the ruling ZANU-PF party
‘It is a sham election which does not reflect the will of the people. We are very much aware of the various manipulations that have taken place,’ Tsvangirai said, adding: ‘It is our view that this election is null and void, because it does not meet the African Union and SADC (Southern African Development Community) standard for free and fair elections.’
The Prime Minister did not say what would happen next, but disclosed that the election would mark the beginning of the end for the ruling ZANU-PF.
He said many had thought the election, in which MPs and local councillors would also be elected, would end the political and economic crisis facing the country, but noted: ‘Once again, Zimbabweans have been shortchanged.’
‘They (ZANU-PF) may be claiming victory, but the resolution of the Zimbabwean crisis has never been so near,’ he said, without elaborating.
International News Agency reports that the turnout was high in the first election to be held under the country’s new constitution, which was approved in a referendum in March.
The election was generally adjudged to have been held in a peaceful atmosphere, despite pre-election fears of violence.