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Election in Zimbabwe

After the election in Zimbabwe on 31 July there has been worldwide debate whether or not the election was free and fair, writes Susanne Østhus.

From 1980 to 1987, Robert Mugabe was prime minister, but became head of state in 1987. Mugabe has a history of excluding other parties from the elections, which is one of the main reasons why this year’s election raises a red flag.

Robert Mugabe

Source: Flickr
Photographer: Gregg Carlstrom

Mugabe won the election with 61 per cent of votes, while opposing candidate Tsvangirai had 34 per cent of votes.

The opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change, has called for a nullification of the election results.

“Simply because no one was killed, it does not mean the election was free and fair. People were heavily intimidated and there was massive fraud,” leader Morgan Tsvangirai said.

Many voters could not find their name on the electoral roll and therefore were unable to vote. The electoral commission has not yet explained this problem.

Southern African Development Community (SADC) has observed the election and approved of the procedures and called the election free and peaceful.

Australia has also entered the debate and foreign minister Bob Carr was concerned about the voters roll and procedures.

“Given our doubts about the results, Australia calls for a re-run of the elections based on a verified and agreed voters roll”, Carr said.

The US says the election is not credible and has consequently decided to maintain their sanctions against Zimbabwe.

Norway is awaiting the final report before deciding whether it will shape their relationship with Zimbabwe or not.

“It is very important for Norway that countries we cooperate with show a genuine willingness to promote democracy and human rights,” minister of international development, Heikki Holmås said.

The election in 2008 also caused a major international uproar. Morgan Tsvangirai won the first round of this election, but lost the second round to Robert Mugabe.

SADC concluded that the pre-election phase in 2008 was affected by political violence, intimidation and displacement. Therefore the will of the Zimbabwan people was not evident in the election results. Is history repeating itself again in Zimbabwe?

Continuing information on the aftermath of the election will be up when the African Union and SADC releases its final report on observations during the election.

Until then, I would really like to hear your opinion on the election. Fair or a farce? Please comment or vote on my poll, I promise it is not rigged.