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International Pressure Mounts For Disclosure Of Zimbabwe Poll Outcome

  • Thomas Chiripasi

The Zimbabwean opposition party led by presidential candidate moved ahead a step on Monday in its effort to obtain a court order compelling the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to immediately release the results of the country's March 29 presidential election which the Movement for Democratic Change says Tsvangirai won.

Harare correspondent Thomas Chiripasi of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported that the high court ruled Monday it has jurisdiction to hear the case, dismissing arguments by electoral commission lawyers saying the supreme court should hear the case.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, a non-governmental group, said a request by the ZANU-PF party of incumbent President Robert Mugabe for a recount of ballots before results are announced is "unprocedural and premature."

The government-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper reported that ZANU-PF seeks a recount and an audit of all materials related to the presidential election following “revelations of errors and miscalculations in the compilation of the poll result.”

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights Director Irene Petras told reporter Blessing Zulu of that she found ZANU-PF's request for a recount to be baffling.

At the same time, International pressure was mounting on Harare to make the outcome of presidential ballot known to the public.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the release of presidential vote tallies is an essential step to work through the crisis.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was "concerned" and urged the Zimbabwean electoral authorities to release the results "expeditiously and with transparency." The European Union again called for an end to the delays.

Elsewhere, Tsvangirai MDC formation officials confirmed that their chief has traveled to South Africa to urge senior officials there to increase pressure on Mr. Mugabe to concede defeat and step down, but kept the démarche largely under wraps.

MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti and the party's international affairs secretary, Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, told VOA that Tsvangirai would meet with influential persons in South Africa, but declined to expand on his contacts there.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation said Tsvangirai met with Jacob Zuma, the relatively recently elected president of the ruling African National Congress.

Other MDC sources said Tsvangirai is not only lobbying diplomats in Pretoria but also reaching out to Washington, London and the European Union in Brussels.

Tsvangirai is also trying to rally public opinion behind his cause. In a bylined article in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, Tsvangirai urged the International Monetary Fund not to dispense any financial aid to Harare until and unless Mr Mugabe steps down.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who met privately with South African President Thabo Mbeki on Sunday on the margins of a governance conference in London, said Monday that any presidential runoff election must be internationally supervised.

National Constitutional Assembly Director Earnest Mudzengi said Tsvangirai must also mobilize his supporters on the ground in Zimbabwe to pressure Mr. Mugabe.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...

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