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Mugabe is losing, vote monitors say

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe lingered in political limbo Monday, with its election commission staying silent on the results of Saturday's presidential election, raising concerns that President Robert Mugabe was intent on rigging the outcome.

As the country waited, a network of civic groups issued its own projection of how the vote will turn out, if legitimately counted. It estimated that the main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, would receive 47 to 51.8 percent, while Mugabe would get 39.2 to 44.4 percent. An independent, Simba Makoni, would get 8 percent.

That forecast, by the Zimbabwean Election Support Network, was based on a random sampling of results already posted at 435 of the 9,400 polling stations. If no one wins a majority, a runoff will be required.

Tsvangirai's party, the Movement for Democratic Change, already has used the posted results to declare victory, though its reading of the numbers is extravagant by comparison. On Monday, Tendai Biti, the party's secretary-general, said unofficial tallies of more than half the vote showed Tsvangirai with 60 percent and Mugabe with 30. "We are at the moment of liberation from a dictator," he said.

Mugabe, 84, has led Zimbabwe since 1980. He is not a man likely to give up power without a fight, analysts, diplomats and Zimbabweans have long contended.

That has left this nation, and a good bit of the world, wondering how he will survive what seems a repudiation by his countrymen, most of whom have become unemployed under his rule. The nation now suffers from inflation of 100,000 percent.

At 6:30 a.m. Monday, nearly 36 hours after the polls closed, Zimbabwe's election commission began broadcasting election results. Totals were given only for races for Parliament—and then only a handful at a time. By day's end, announcements were made for only 67 of the 210 seats.

Those results split nearly evenly between candidates aligned with Mugabe and Tsvangirai, 55, a former labor leader who lost the 2002 presidential vote in a contest that many independent observers consider to have been grossly rigged.

The election commission has begged for patience, saying it has many votes to record in local and national contests. But for many, it is hard to believe the slowness is not intentional.

Martin Meredith, a biographer of Mugabe, said that although the president will steal the election if he can, it is not certain that he has complete control over the apparatus of power, from the military to the intelligence agency.

>>fast facts

Life under Mugabe

When Robert Mugabe came to power in 1980, Zimbabwe's economy thrived on exports of food, minerals and tobacco. Today, a third of the estimated 12-million Zimbabweans depend on imported food handouts. Unemployment runs at 80 percent.

Associated Press

Mugabe is losing, vote monitors say 03/31/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 11:11am]
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