As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, May 02, 2008

Zimbabwe Update

The election commission has finally released the results of the Presidential election, and they say it shows a win for the opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai, but not by enough to avoid a runoff:

Mr. Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, won 47.9 percent of the vote to Mr. Mugabe’s 43.2 percent, the election officials said. The third major candidate, Simba Makoni, who broke away from the governing party, ZANU-PF, to run as an independent, took 8.3 percent of the vote.

Nelson Chamisa, a spokesman for the opposition, immediately denounced election officials for short-circuiting the vote verification process and “arrogantly” releasing the final tallies before the opposition had a chance to protest them. But he was noncommittal on the crucial question of whether Mr. Tsvangirai would participate in a runoff. No date has been announced for one.

“They did not verify the results,” Mr. Chamisa said. “They did not give us an opportunity to contest the results. They are waylaying the people’s will. Clearly, this is scandalous.”

The opposition maintains that it won the election outright with 50.3 percent of the vote, while ministers in Mr. Mugabe’s cabinet have for weeks said a runoff would be necessary.

Given past history here, it's hard not to believe that Robert Mugabe's thumb was on the Election Commission's scale. The question is what the opposition is prepared to do about it. If they enter the runoff they will be acceding to what they believe to be fraud, and they will find the odds for eventual election stacked against them; if they do not Mugabe will likely be appointed by default. And if they try to mass popular protest they will likely be slaughtered in the streets. It's a nearly impossible position for them.

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