PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai should use "established channels" if he is unhappy with his MDC-T party's election defeat by Zanu PF and send a "clear message of calm" to his supporters, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said.
Tsvangirai has rejected early results showing Zanu PF and President Robert Mugabe heading for a landslide victory as "null and void" while warning that the "illegitimacy of the result will plunge this country into a serious crisis".
His MDC-T party's spokesman Douglas Mwonzora, who lost his parliamentary seat in Nyanga North, said "demonstrations and mass action are options" while the party's exiled treasurer Roy Bennett, dismissing the results as a "rig of all rigs", called for a campaign of "passive resistance."
"I'm talking about people completely shutting the country down -- don't pay any bills, don't attend work, just bring the country to a standstill. There needs to be resistance against this theft and the people of Zimbabwe need to speak out strongly," he said.
But giving his first reaction to the elections, Ban Ki-moon commended Zimbabwe for holding a "broadly peaceful election" and appeared to steer the losers towards using the court system.
"The Secretary-General has been following the elections in Zimbabwe closely. He commends the Zimbabwean people for a broadly peaceful election day and for exercising their democratic rights," a spokesman said.
"He stresses, at the same time, that the concerns which have been raised about certain aspects of the electoral process should be pursued through established channels. These concerns should then be considered transparently and fairly. The most important thing is that the will of the people of Zimbabwe is respected."
Ki-moon hopes that "the same calm and peaceful atmosphere will prevail during the vote counting and throughout the completion of the electoral process" and "recalls the commitment made by the incumbent President and Prime Minister, as well as other political parties, to ensure peaceful elections and he calls on them to send clear messages of calm to their supporters."
In a message which appeared aimed at President Robert Mugabe, Ki-moon added that he "encourages the country's leadership to govern responsibly and inclusively and to pursue policies and reforms that could serve to deepen democratic governance and also spur economic recovery that would benefit all Zimbabweans."
The African Union, SADC and COMESA observer missions have already passed the July 31 vote as "free and credible", while offering tender criticism of aspects of the electoral process including delays in releasing the voters' roll to the contesting parties.