2 April 2008

Zimbabwe: Ruling Party Loses Parliament

Cape Town — Zimbabwe's official election commission has confirmed that the Zimbabwe Africa National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF), the party which has ruled the country for nearly 30 years, has lost its parliamentary majority, news agencies report.

The figures were released hours after the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) claimed victory in both the parliamentary and presidential elections.  However, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has yet to announce the results of the presidential election.

Reuters reported the ZEC as announcing that President Robert Mugabe's party had won 94 of the 210 seats in parliament.  With only seven results outstanding, the party could not win the 106 seats it would need to control parliament.

The combined opposition parties reportedly took 105 of the 207 contested seats. Of those, 96 were won by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). It thus appeared that the MDC faction headed by Arthur Mutambara could hold the balance of power in Parliament.

Earlier, MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti told a news conference in Harare that the party's statistics showed that its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, won the presidential election outright, with 50.3 percent of the vote. Mugabe secured only 43.8 percent, he said.

However, the Associated Press pointed out that the figures Biti released did not substantiate his claim. He said Tsvangirai won 1,171,079 of 2,382,243 votes cast – which is only 49.2 percent. A candidate needs 50 percent-plus-one of the vote to win.

Biti said the MDC would take part in a second round run-off of the presidential poll "under protest," but called on Mugabe to concede defeat on the grounds that a second round would only be "delaying the inevitable."


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