Hints and threats in Zimbabwe

From The Independent:

David Coltart, the MDC’s MP for Bulawayo South, said: “There have been widespread irregularities and breaches of electoral law. The police were ejecting MDC election agents whilst the balloting took place … If it was happening here in an urban constituency, it was worse in the rural areas where there is no communication.”

Of the 25 seats Mr Mugabe had won, at least a dozen were previously held by the opposition. Mr Tsvangirai said the MDC would not settle for merely appealing the result in Zimbabwe’s biased courts, a strong hint that mass action is being contemplated. The government said yesterday it was ready to crush any such uprising.

Mr Mugabe has already mobilised the army, strengthened by youth militia of up to 15,000, who are being heavily armed. Thousands of soldiers, police and the youth militia voted secretly for the ruling party a few days before public polling opened. All army ballots were cast openly and in front of commanders at the various barracks. The same was done in the last election with soldiers and police officials being told their ballots could not be secret.

The government also relocates 100,000 teachers, known to be opposition supporters, away from their constituencies to help in running polling stations.

Even officials from the regional Southern Africa Development Community, allies of Mr Mugabe, who had declared the poll free and fair despite evidence of rigging, expressed concern at the number of voters turned away from opposition urban strongholds. The independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network said about 25 per cent of eligible voters had been turned away.

President Mugabe’s stolen victory means there is no respite for the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe.