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Zuma Congratulates Mugabe Amid Election Controversy

  • Studio 7

Election History: President Robert Mugabe, right, welcomed South African President Jacob Zuma, left, at Harare International airport, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2009.

Election History: President Robert Mugabe, right, welcomed South African President Jacob Zuma, left, at Harare International airport, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2009.

South African President Jacob Zuma has congratulated Robert Mugabe on being re-elected as president of Zimbabwe for a seventh term in what he termed a "successful vote."

According to official results announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) on Saturday, President Mugabe took 61 percent of the vote in Wednesday's election, compared to 34 percent for his longtime rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mr. Zuma, the Southern African Development Community’s point person in Harare, described Wednesday’s elections as "harmonised" and extended his “profound congratulations” to President Mugabe on his win.

Zuma's government appears resistant to claims by the MDC that the election was rigged. A statement from South Africa's foreign ministry said: “President Zuma urges all political parties in Zimbabwe to accept the outcome of the elections as election observers reported it to be an expression of the will of the people.”

In sharp contrast to Zuma's message, Mugabe’s apparent landslide victory provoked criticism from the United Kingdom and the United States, which called the outcome "not credible." Australia has gone so far as to call for a re-run of the poll with a clean voters’ roll.

On Saturday, Mr. Tsvangirai called on SADC and the African Union to convene a special summit to discuss Zimbabwe’s elections, which Tsvangirai described as a "big farce," saying Mugabe’s win would throw country into a constitutional and economic crisis.

The European Union said it was concerned about "alleged irregularities and reports of incomplete participation" in the poll, as well as "identified weaknesses in the electoral process and a lack of transparency."

The AU declared the election "free and credible," but said it wants more information about the reported irregularities.

Mugabe's Zanu PF party also won overwhelming control of Parliament in Wednesday's vote. Tsvangirai has vowed to challenge the results in court and is calling for new polls.
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