Mugabe 'ready to face fresh vote'

03 Apr 2008
BBC News

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is ready to contest a second round of the presidential election, a spokesman for his ruling Zanu-PF party says.

Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga said if results from Saturday's election showed a second round was necessary, Mr Mugabe would stand.

Official results from the presidential poll have yet to be issued, but the opposition says it won the vote.

Mr Mugabe has been seen on state TV meeting African Union observers.

Mr Matonga told the BBC: "If there is no clear winner, the laws stress that you have to go for a run-off."

Under election rules, a candidate needs to win just over 50% of the vote to avoid a second round.

"President Mugabe is going to fight to the last, and he's not giving up, he's not going anywhere, he hasn't lost the election," said Mr Matonga.

Zanu-PF was leading in the popular vote, he said. If translated into a presidential vote, that would mean victory for Mr Mugabe, he said.

Dispute

Official results from the parliamentary election, published by the Zimbabwe Election Commission on Wednesday, gave Mr Mugabe's party the lead in terms of the popular vote - 45.9% to 42.8% for the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

But the MDC won a majority of seats, displacing Zanu-PF, final official results show.

Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC took 99 seats, while Mr Mugabe's party polled 97. A smaller MDC faction which backed former Zanu-PF minister Simba Makoni in the presidential polls won 10 seats leaving them in a powerful position.

With presidential election results still awaited, the MDC said on Wednesday that its leader had won, though Zanu-PF denied this.

The MDC released its own results to back up its claim of victory in the presidential poll, saying Mr Tsvangirai had won 50.3% of the vote to Mr Mugabe's 43.8%, so avoiding a second round of voting.

But those figures differ slightly with the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, a coalition of civil society organisations, who said Mr Tsvangirai had won 49% to Mr Mugabe's 42% - which if true would necessitate a run-off.

Zanu-PF meeting

Zanu-PF's leadership is holding a meeting on Friday to discuss strategy. Local reporters say the party is split on whether Mr Mugabe should fight on.

State radio says that results for the 60-seat upper house, the Senate, are expected to be issued by the Zimbabwe Election Commission on Thursday.

In further international pressure, UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the results of the presidential election now had to be announced swiftly.

Mr Mugabe, 84, came to power 28 years ago at independence but in recent years Zimbabwe has been plagued by the world's highest inflation, as well as acute food and fuel shortages.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7327725.stm