Zimbabwe's envoy to Australia 'claims asylum'

Jacqueline Zwambila Ms Zwambila was appointed under the previous power-sharing government

The Zimbabwean ambassador to Australia has claimed asylum, branding President Robert Mugabe's government "illegitimate", local media report.

The Canberra Times newspaper posted a video of Jacqueline Zwambila saying that July's elections in Zimbabwe had been "stolen".

"There's no way I would feel safe to be in Zimbabwe or go back," she said.

The opposition alleged that more than a million voters were prevented from casting their ballots in July's poll.

The polling stations where the violations are alleged to have occurred were mostly in the capital and urban areas considered to be strongholds of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Australia, along with several other Western countries, had expressed concern at the conduct of the poll, but African monitors praised the election as peaceful, while noting some irregularities.

"Once the elections of 31 July were stolen by the current government, which is illegitimate, I knew that this is the end of the line," Ms Zwambila said.

Ms Zwambila, an appointee of former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, was recalled from her post without being offered another job after the elections, the Canberra Times reports.

Ms Zwambila said she had been subjected to threats and a "smear campaign".

Mr Tsvangirai belongs to the MDC, as does Ms Zwambila.

July's elections ended a fragile power-sharing government formed by Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai in 2009.

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