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Opposition: ‘Massive Violence’ Sweeps Zimbabwe

BY Admin  April 8, 2008 at 1:40 PM EDT

MDC's Tendai Biti at a news conference; AP photo

Movement for Democratic Change Secretary General Tendai Biti said Tuesday that the violence has broken out in traditional ZANU-PF strongholds that voted for the opposition.

“Militias are being rearmed, ZANU-PF supporters are being rearmed,” Biti said at a news conference. Biti also said there has been a “complete rearming of mobs who led the terror in 2000 and 2006.”

Reports of violence in remote rural areas — including the torching of opposition supporters’ houses — have circulated through Harare in recent days. The reports could not be confirmed by the Associated Press because of the danger in traveling to the areas.

However, a farmers’ union told Reuters that war veterans, used as political shock troops by Mugabe, had evicted more than 60 mostly white farmers from their land since the weekend.

“The situation is very severe. The evictions are continuing right round the country. We have over 60 farmers evicted as of this morning. Every couple of minutes my phone is ringing with another case of eviction,” Commercial Farmers Union President Trevor Gifford told Reuters.

Meantime, a high court judge has agreed to hear an opposition request that the results of last month’s presidential election be released.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon also has urged Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission to release the results “expeditiously and with transparency.”

Independent and ruling party projections say MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai gained most votes but not the 50 percent needed to win outright. The MDC counters that he garnered 50.3 percent of the vote and should be declared the winner without a runoff vote.

Mugabe’s ZANU-PF has demanded a recount of the vote, and police have arrested at least seven election officials accused of under-counting votes cast for Zimbabwe’s long-time leader.

“I say to my brothers and sisters across the continent — don’t wait for dead bodies in the streets of Harare,” Biti said. “There is a constitutional and legal crisis in Zimbabwe.”