Olusegun Obasanjo, who heads the African Union Observer Mission, says his review found this week’s Zimbabwe’s elections to be fair, despite vote-rigging allegations from the leading opposition party. The former Nigerian president said that flaws in the nation’s electoral process ultimately had not stopped the will of the people from being expressed.
According to Deutsche Welle:
“‘There are incidences that could have been avoided, but all-in-all we do not believe that these incidents will amount to the results not reflecting the will of the people,’ Obasanjo said.
“The AU’s preliminary report however voiced ‘great concern’ over reports that a large number of people were turned away from polling stations. This is said to have occurred particularly in urban areas, where support for opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is highest.
“It also noted problems with the electoral roll, which was made publicly available only two days before the poll. Critics say this means voters’ names may have been duplicated or omitted in the roll.
“The AU also reported that more than two million extra ballots were printed – 35 percent above the 6.4 million voters expected to cast a ballot – something that is against international best practice.
“About 600 foreign elections observers, mostly from African bodies, were accredited at the elections along with 6,000 local observers.”
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) praises the elections for being free and peaceful
“The SADC said in a written statement that the elections dismissed by Tsvangirai as a sham were free and peaceful.
“Bernard Membe, the SADC’s top election observer, later qualified the statement.
‘”We have said this election is free, indeed very free,’ he said. ‘We didn’t say it was fair simply because the question of fairness is broad. We didn’t just want to come to a conclusion at this stage.’
“Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s prime minister, said on Thursday that the elections’ credibility had been marred by administrative and legal violations.
“His comments came on the heels of remarks made by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a coalition of local nongovernment organizations monitoring elections in the country, which earlier described Wednesday’s vote as ‘seriously compromised.’
“‘Up to a million voters were disenfranchised,’ Solomon Zwana, the chairman of ZESN, said on Thursday.
“The mood on the streets of the capital Harare was subdued on Friday as the top leadership of [Movement for Democratic Change) met at its headquarters to chart their next move, with everything from a legal challenge to street protests on the table.”