Sunday, September 01, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE, AL JAZEERA) Blow for Tsvangirai as AU clears election
02/08/2013 00:00:00
by Al Jazeera

WEDNESDAY’S election was credible and fair, the chief of the African Union observer mission said Friday altough the bloc's report noted some problems with the voters’ roll and of people being turned away from polling booths.

President Robert Mugabe's party has claimed to have won Wednesday's elections, but his rival Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's prime minister, called the poll a "huge farce", amid allegations of electoral irregularities and manipulation.

However, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who heads the AU's vote monitoring mission, said on Friday that flaws in the electoral process had not stopped the will of the people from being expressed.

Obasanjo told Al Jazeera that the assessment that the AU mission had of the presidential and general elections was that they were "fairly fair".

"We justified that by the process which led to the election itself, it was free," he said.

Independent assessors had found a bias in Zimbabwe's media and said that 99.97 percent of rural voters were registered, but only 67.94 percent of urban voters were registered.

But Obasanjo told Al Jazeera that the AU had a team in Zimbabwe for the election campaign from June 15 had found that anyone who wanted to register had registered.

"I do not know how people come to these figures," Obasanjo said of the independent assessment in his interview with Al Jazeera.
"You do not wait until the 31st of July to complain about registration.

"If the registration had not gone well you will have complained when the registration was going on or immediately after the completion of the registration."
Obasanjo said that the campaign had been fair and free and the AU had not found any issues of hindrance during the campaign.

He said earlier that voting was peaceful but that observers noted "incidences that could have been avoided and even tended to have breached the law".

The mission is asking election authorities to investigate reports that large numbers of eligible voters were turned away from polling stations in Wednesday's vote.

Tsvangirai said on Thursday that the elections had been a sham that did not reflect the will of the people.

"Its credibility has been marred by administrative and legal violations which affect the legitimacy of its outcome," Tsvangirai said.

Tsvangirai’s comments come on the heels of remarks made by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a coalition of local non-government organisations monitoring elections in the country, who earlier described Wednesday's vote as "seriously compromised".

"Up to a million voters were disenfranchised," Solomon Zwana, the chairman of ZESN, said on Thursday.

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