Monday, March 31, 2008

Mugabe Hangs On

Results from Zimbabwe's presidential and parliamentary elections are slowly being released by the country's electoral commission. Despite claims from the opposition MDC that they've won a thumping victory, the results we've seen so far show them roughly level with the Zanu PF party led by President Robert Mugabe. Given the suspiciously slow speed at which the results are being released, as well as Mugabe's past form for rigging elections, it's fair to assume something dodgy's going on.

But the signs are time could at last be just about up for Mr Mugabe. One reason is the election campaign itself, which went off surprisingly peacefully. In the past, the military and police would have been quick to use violence to suppress the opposition. That didn't happen nearly as much this time, suggesting support for Mr Mugabe within the army may have melted away. In the event of a dubious election result being hotly disputed by the opposition and its supporters, which side the military chooses to support would probably prove decisive.

Then there's the apparent scale of vote-rigging that would be required to change these results. Unofficial tallies released by the opposition and others show Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC with around two-thirds of the vote both in the parliamentary and presidential polls. Zanu PF supporters and even Mr Mugabe himself must know to declare him the outright victor, as the state-owned Herald newspaper is apparently going to do in the morning, would be just too ridiculous. But the sad truth about Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe, where inflation runs at 100,000% is that nothing is too ridiculous. Don't be surprised if he tries to hang on once again.

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