The United States ambassador to Zimbabwe has described as deeply flawed the country's recent election won by incumbent President Robert Mugabe by a landslide.
In a telephone conference with reporters, Ambassador Bruce Wharton expressed concern at the manner in which the election, partially endorsed by most African leaders but condemned by the West,
“We have done our best in the last couple of months to lay out our concerns about the election process," said Mr. Wharton.
He said, "We do certainly commend the people of Zimbabwe for a very peaceful process on July 31st, but our larger concerns are about the underlying preparations for the elections - voter registration, and conduct of the voters roll. These are all issues which affect the credibility of the process and that’s where we are concerned.”
The ambassador did not want to be drawn into the alleged rigging by a shadowy Israeli group Nikuv International Projects (NIP) which has been accused by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of rigging the polls in favour of Mr. Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.
He said, “I do not think that is very important. I think it is very important that we keep our eyes on the main issue here, which is that, this was a deeply flawed process.
"One that we do not feel represents the will of the people of Zimbabwe. Whether there were some things that were supported by outsiders, I really do not know anything about that company."
Wharton though was reluctant to endorse calls by Australia to push for an election re-run saying it is Zimbabwe’s call.
“It is our policy not to be prescriptive at this point. I think there are a lot of players primarily Zimbabweans who need to talk this thing through and figure out what’s the best way. Our concern ultimately is that the people of Zimbabwe have the clear and credible right to determine their own future,” he said.
U.S Secretary of State John Kerry has also said the election results did not "represent a credible expression of the people".
Meanwhile, a second Zimbabwe Electoral Commissioner has resigned from the body just three days after another official quit over the manner in which Wednesday’s national elections were conducted.
Professor Geoff Feltoe says it had always been his intention to resign from the electoral body after the 2013 elections. He says he’s going back to teach at the University of Zimbabwe.
Unlike Mkhululi Nyathi who resigned Saturday and cited the conduct of the polls, Feltoe refused to say his decision was related to way the polls were run.
Commissioner Nyathi said in his resignation letter: "While throughout the whole process I retained some measure of hope that the integrity of the whole process could be salvaged along the way, this was not to be."
But executive director, Abel Chikomo of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum says the resignations are of no consequence as Zanu-PF has already claimed victory.
ZEC has been come under fire from the opposition and local observers who charge the electoral body failed to run a free and fair poll. But ZEC chairperson Rita Makarau has dismissed allegations of rigging as unfounded.
Mr Mugabe and Zanu-PF convincingly won the parliamentary, council and presidential elections which are being disputed by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his party.