The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, one of the nation’s biggest domestic observer missions, said the credibility of yesterday’s election was “seriously compromised” with as many as 1 million urban voters unable to cast ballots.
“Before election day the voter registration process was systematically biased against urban voters,” ZESN said in an e-mailed statement today. “A total of 99.97 percent of rural voters were registered versus only 67.94 percent of urban voters.”
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who is seeking to end President Robert Mugabe’s 33-year rule, told reporters in Harare today that he won’t accept results from the “sham election.”
ZESN deployed more than 7,000 observers to every province and constituency in Zimbabwe and found that 82 percent of urban polling stations turned away voters. Reasons cited for this included names not appearing on the voters roll and citizens turning up at the wrong ward for voting. Only 38 percent of rural voting stations turned people away, according to the group.
The Zimbabwe National African Union-Patriotic Front, led by 89-year-old Mugabe, has shared power with Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change since a disputed election in 2008 that international observers said was marred by violence and irregularities.
While the pre-election period was peaceful and polling day proceeded without any major incidents reported, there are other factors that can undermine the credibility of the vote, ZESN said.
“We urge observers and all stakeholders to look below the surface as there are some grave issues that have arisen,” it said. “All is not well.”
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