Vote recount begins in Zimbabwe

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Election officials in Zimbabwe on Saturday began recounting votes in 23 constituencies countrywide where the government claims it was cheated in last month’s disputed poll.

This follows Friday’s failure in a court bid by the opposition to stop the recounts on grounds that the time limit allowed for parties to lodge complaints which might trigger recounts had elapsed since the 29 March vote.

The government, which was for the first time, since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, beaten by the opposition, is claiming it was cheated in a number of constituencies and demanded a recount.

The opposition got a combined 109 seats in the lower house of parliament, where the recounts have been ordered, compared to 97 for President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party.

The opposition, which claims to have beaten Mugabe in the presidential segment of the election, has said it will not recognise the outcome of the recounts.

It has accused the authorities of planning to rig the election, through the recounts, to enable the ruling party to regain its lost majority in parliament.

The ruling party only needs to win nine of the contested 23 constituencies to restore its parliamentary majority. It was unclear whether international observers, who took part in the election 29 March, would witness the recounts.

Election officials said the observers, including local ones, had been invited to witness the recounts.

Meanwhile, despite mounting regional and international pressure, there was no indication when the authorities would release the result of the presidential vote.

Mugabe has stopped the release of the results, claiming he was cheated. He is similarly demanding a recount. Panapress .

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