Contested Victory in Zimbabwe
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GWEN IFILL: At least some Zimbabweans took to the streets today to celebrate President Robert Mugabe’s election to a third term in office. This, after Zimbabwe’s government officially declared the 78-year-old Mugabe the winner of an election fiercely condemned by election observers. Mugabe won another six-year term with 56% of the vote, easily defeating his chief rival, 49- year-old Morgan Tsvangirai, by more than 400,000 votes. Tsvangirai’s party, the Movement for Democratic Change, mounted the toughest challenge Mugabe has faced in his 22-year rule.
Election observers said violence and intimidation marked the election, which continued for an unprecedented three days amid reports that hundreds of thousands of voters were kept from casting ballots. Zimbabwe’s government officials have repeatedly denied any wrong doings or irregularities.
PATRICK CHINAMASA, Justice Minister, Zimbabwe: I think that any objective- minded person will agree that this election was conducted freely and fairly and in an atmosphere of peace.
GWEN IFILL: But Tsvangirai said his party wouldn’t accept the outcome.
MORGAN TSVANGIRAI, President Candidate: This election as announced by the Registrar-General’s Office does not reflect the true will of the people of Zimbabwe, and is consequently illegitimate in the eyes of the people. As we are talking here, the people of Zimbabwe are seething with anger. But how that anger is going to be directed in a constructive way, in a strategic way, that’s for the matter of various structures of our party to discuss.
GWEN IFILL: Some election observers from Nigeria and South Africa said the vote should stand.
SAM MOTSUENYANE, South African Observer Mission: We are hopeful that now that the people of Zimbabwe have spoken, the world will respect their verdict.
GWEN IFILL: But most foreign observers have questioned the election’s validity.
KARE VOLLAN, Norwegian Observer Mission: The basic conclusion is that the elections here in Zimbabwe did not meet international standards when it comes to some key points and one of the points is the pre-election phase, where the campaign was marred by political violence. And even though incidents were attributed to both parties, in some cases there is a clear pattern of violence against the opposition by the ruling party and by the police.
GWEN IFILL: And in Washington, President Bush said the U.S. Government would not accept the result.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: We do not recognize the outcome of the election because we think it’s flawed. And we are dealing with our friends to figure out how to deal with this flawed election.
GWEN IFILL: The State Department said the U.S. may respond by freezing individual assets and banning commercial export licenses. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned against the prospect of violence in Zimbabwe.
KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General, United Nations: Let me appeal once again to all Zimbabweans to remain calm, to show respect to each other’s rights and the democratic process and to disavow all acts of violence and retribution.
GWEN IFILL: The U.S. and the European Union had already imposed a travel ban on Mugabe and his ruling elite after Mugabe’s government expelled the EU’s chief election observer last month.