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Zimbabwe Election Monitoring Group Questions Presidential Results

While the ZANU-PF party of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has launched its campaign for a presidential runoff election that has yet to be scheduled, and in which first-round front-runner Morgan Tsvangirai has yet to commit himself, the country's leading election monitoring group has raised questions about first-round results.

ZANU-PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira urged Mr. Mugabe’s supporters Tuesday to get out the vote, and called on voters to refrain from violence.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said Friday that Mr. Mugabe received 43.2% of first-round votes while Tsvangirai took 47.9%. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change says Tsvangirai won the election outright, however, and has questioned the need for a run-off though expressing confidence Tsvangirai would win one.

But the Zimbabwe Election Support Network said Tuesday that it cannot validate the election results released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, saying there was no transparency in the verification, collation and tabulation of the results, as party agents required by law to be present were not invited to witness the process.

The independent observer group also appealed to the Zimbabwe Republic Police and political parties to halt ongoing violence aimed at opposition supporters in rural areas, and attacks on its election observers in Mount Darwin East, Mashonaland Central.

The monitoring group said such attacks intensified after ZANU-PF held a meeting on Sunday addressed by former soldier Siyamvuma Chikwasha. About 200 youths led by war veterans burned the huts of four local election observers, confiscating their clothing and identification cards in the process, ZESN said.

ZESN Chairman Noel Kututwa told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he is concerned that the climate of violence in Zimbabwe is not conducive to holding a credible presidential run-off election.

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