Challenger Calls Zimbabwe's Vote 'Gigantic Fraud'

International observers reported intimidation of opposition to president's reelection
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 27, 2023 11:50 AM CDT
Opposition to Challenge Vote in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa addresses a press conference at State House in Harare on Sunday.   (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Zimbabwe's main opposition leader on Sunday alleged "blatant and gigantic fraud" in the country's election after President Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared the winner and international observers reported an atmosphere of intimidation against voters. The returns from the latest troubled vote in the southern African nation were announced Saturday night, two days earlier than expected. Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa's Citizens Coalition for Change party said it would challenge the results as "hastily assembled without proper verification," the AP reports. "They stole your voice and vote but never your hope," Chamisa posted on X in his first public reaction to the election's announced outcome. "It's a blatant and gigantic fraud."

Mnangagwa, 80, dismissed allegations of vote fraud. "I did not conduct these elections. I think those who feel the race was not run properly know where to go to complain. I am so happy," he said at a news conference Sunday, adding that the elections were run "transparently, fairly in broad daylight." Mnangagwa was reelected for a second and final five-year term with 52.6% of the vote, according to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. Chamisa, 45, who also lost to Mnangagwa in a close and disputed election five years ago, won 44% of the vote this time, the commission said. International observers have noted problems with the election, held Wednesday and Thursday, saying Chamisa's supporters faced intimidation.

In the buildup to the vote, international rights groups reported a crackdown on opposition to Mnangagwa and the long-ruling ZANU-PF party. "The vote will be challenged, it was fraught with unprecedented illegality," Chamisa said later Sunday in the capital, Harare. He described the results as "doctored" and "criminal." The rights groups said the party, which according to the electoral commission retained its parliamentary majority, had used the police and courts to harass and intimidate opposition officials and supporters. The actual election was also problematic, with a shortage of ballot papers, especially in urban areas that are opposition strongholds, per the AP. People slept at polling stations to make sure they were able to vote.

(More Zimbabwe elections stories.)

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