Makoni, Tsvangirai’s ally

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Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has won the first round of a presidential election against Robert Mugabe with 47.9% of the vote, an election official said on Friday.

from our correspondent in Harare

Mugabe won 43.2% of the vote and, since neither candidate won more than 50%, a second round run-off will have to be held, Lovemore Sekeramayi, chief elections officer, told reporters in Harare.

“Since no candidate has received the majority of the valid vote cast… a
second election shall be held on a date to be advised by the commission,” he said, referring to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

Under Zimbabwe election law, the run-off has to be held within 21 days after the announcement of the result.

The result was released after a process by the candidates to check the result, but opposition spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the verification had not been done properly.

Former finance minister Simba Makoni, widely expected to back Tsvangirai in any run-off, came third in the vote with 8.3%, Sekeramayi said.

Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change has claimed an outright victory over Mugabe in the March 29 election based on its own calculations and said ahead of the announcement that it would reject a result that showed otherwise.

Speaking before the announcement, Chris Mbanga, Tsvangirai’s representative at all-party talks hosted by the electoral commission in Harare, said the commission was not listening to the opposition.

“We have been denied the opportunity to verify the result and they’re going ahead to announce the original results and now we are taking the matter to our political leadership,” Mbanga said before leaving the meeting.

Tsvangirai has raised doubts over whether he would take part in a run-off and has been out of the country since shortly after the vote, trying to keep up international pressure on Mugabe.

But if he refused to take part, then Mugabe would keep his hold on power.

Tsvangirai has suggested he could only contest a second round if it was
monitored by United Nations-led foreign observers. The main international observer group during the first round was from Zimbabwe’s neighbours.

The opposition accuses the ruling ZANU-PF party, which lost its parliamentary majority in a parallel vote on March 29, of a campaign of violence and intimidation ahead of a possible second round and says 20 of its members have been killed.

The government denies that and accuses the MDC of political attacks.

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