Preemptive victory claims in Zimbabwe


Zimbabwe's opposition claimed victory Sunday in a general election even before first results were announced, as the United States branded President Robert Mugabe a disgrace to the whole of Africa.

Despite warnings that a pre-emptive declaration would be seen as tantamount to a coup, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said it was the certain winner and had secured nearly all parliamentary seats in the two main cities.

Fearful of post-poll violence, security forces remained on high alert. They arrested 13 activists and two aspiring lawmakers during a punch-up between rival factions of the MDC in Harare, but there was no major unrest.

"This far, short of a miracle, we have won this election beyond any reasonable doubt. We have won this election," MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti told a news conference.

Biti said the party's assessment was based on unofficial returns posted at polling stations where counting had been completed. And he cast doubt on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, a supposedly independent body whose executives are appointed by Mugabe.

Asked why he was not waiting for the commission to announce results, Biti said: "We don't trust the ZEC, which is not independent.


The probably have good reason not to trust any group controlled by Mugabe. Zimbabwe is a faux democracy at best where elections are used to give despots pretensions of legitimacy while Mugabe's crowd prints almost as many ballots as it does the countries inflated currency. If the government announces an opposition victory, that would be a miracle.


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