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Vote Checks Begin for Zimbabwe Election Results

BY Admin  May 1, 2008 at 3:25 PM EST

Opposition supporters

The commission is beginning a verification process for the long-awaited results, inviting candidates to present their own tallies so a consensus can be reached on the numbers.

“They will do their own tallies and we do ours, then when we get together we compare the results,” commission chairman George Chiweshe told Agence France-Presse before the meeting.

“Where we don’t agree, we will pull out every relevant document to ensure we have the same figures.”

Individual polling stations have posted results, allowing parties to compile their own tallies as the country remained deadlocked waiting for the commission results.

On Wednesday, CNN and Reuters reported that unidentified senior government officials said the official results give opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai 47 percent of the votes and President Robert Mugabe 43 percent.

Zimbabwe’s Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga would not confirm those figures, but told the Associated Press on Thursday that neither candidate won the 50 percent of the vote needed to avoid a run-off. Once results are announced, a run-off must be held within three weeks, according to election rules.

For the past month, Tsvangirai has insisted he won the vote out right and that Mugabe was delaying release of the results to orchestrate a way to require a second round of voting.

On Thursday, Tsvangirai repeated his claim, telling France 24 that his party, Movement for Democratic Change, compiled results from individual polling stations and found the MDC won a decisive victory not requiring a run-off.

He also accused Mugabe of making it impossible for a second round of voting to be free and fair.

“How can you have a run-off when Mugabe over the last month has been unleashing violence, death squads and violence against our structures,” said Tsvangirai.

However, he has said he would take part in a second round of voting if international observers and the United Nations monitored the election. If he refused to take part, election rules would declare Mugabe the winner.

Tsvangirai has spent weeks outside of Zimbabwe lobbying for more international pressure on Mugabe’s government.

A first-round defeat would have marked the end of Mugabe’s nearly 30-year reign as president.

His party lost power of the parliament for the first time in March, a sign of frustration over the economic crisis in Zimbabwe, where inflation is at 165,000 percent.