Tsvangirai To Return To Zimbabwe After Vote Checks

OPPOSITION leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said he would return to Zimbabwe after verification of results from the March 29 election, in which he says he beat President Robert Mugabe.

Checks of the results started yesterday to ensure that all candidates were happy with the electoral commission’s figures.

The month-long delay in announcing the results has raised fears of bloodshed and Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change has accused Mugabe — in power for 28 years — of prolonging the wait to rig the outcome.

Tsvangirai has spent several weeks outside Zimbabwe in a bid to raise foreign pressure on Mugabe to concede defeat in a country suffering economic collapse.

It is unclear how long the verification process will take.

“I am sure that the verification exercise will not be difficult because we will all have to compare the figures and ultimately come out with the outcome that everyone can agree to,” Tsvangirai said in an interview broadcast on French news channel France 24.

“Once that is done, then we know who has won the election and then I will make the necessary steps to go back,” said Tsvangirai.

No result has been announced to the public yet, but senior government sources have told Reuters Tsvangirai won 47% of the vote against the president’s 43%.

If confirmed, that would mean that a run-off is necessary.

The MDC won control of Zimbabwe’s parliament in a parallel election more than one month ago, and it says that Tsvangirai also won an outright majority in the presidential poll so that there is no need for a run-off.

The MDC has accused the government of launching a campaign of violence and intimidation ahead of the possible second round and said 20 of its members have been killed by pro-government militias.

The government denies carrying out a violent campaign and accuses the MDC of political attacks.

Tsvangirai has said there is no need for a second round, but has also suggested he could take part if international observers led by the United Nations monitored the process.

The only observers at the first round were from Zimbabwe’s neighbours.

If Tsvangirai refused to take part in a run-off, Mugabe would be declared the winner, according to election rules.

Zimbabweans had hoped the election would ease economic turmoil. But severe food, fuel and foreign currency shortages are worsening, and there are no signs an inflation rate of 165 000% —  the world’s highest — will decrease. — Reuters.