Zimbabwe election: William Hague voices 'grave concerns'

William Hague
Image caption William Hague said that there were "serious" questions about the credibility of the election

Foreign Secretary William Hague has commended the people of Zimbabwe for holding peaceful elections.

But Mr Hague voiced "grave concerns" about the conduct of the election, which saw Robert Mugabe win a seventh term in office amid claims of fraud.

Mr Mugabe, 89, won 61% of the vote, against Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's 34%.

Mr Tsvangirai said the polls for parliament and president were fraudulent and called for a re-run.

In a statement, Mr Hague said: "I commend the people of Zimbabwe on holding peaceful elections.

"However we have grave concerns over the conduct of the election."

'Deeply concerned'

Zimbabwe's Electoral Commission said that Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party won 158 of the 210 parliamentary seats, giving it a two-thirds majority in the legislature, which will enable it to make amendments to the new constitution.

Image caption Robert Mugabe won 61% of the vote

Mr Tsvangirai has announced that his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party would not participate in any government institutions in protest.

He said he would challenge the result in the courts.

Mr Hague said there were "serious" questions about the credibility of the election, because of irregularities both in the run-up to the ballot and on polling day.

He said he was "deeply concerned" that a number of reforms promised in the 2008 Global Political Agreement setting out the terms of power-sharing between Zanu-PF and the MDC had still not been completed by the time of the presidential poll.

The reforms had been highlighted by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as "necessary for peaceful, credible, free and fair elections".

'Critical flaw'

Mr Hague said: "The preliminary statements of the African Union (AU) and SADC observation missions, and those of the domestic observer groups, have outlined many of these significant concerns and I hope that their final assessments of the elections will take into account the full impact of these irregularities on the outcome.

The foreign secretary said he was also concerned with irregularities reported on polling day.

Image caption Morgan Tsvangirai said he would challenge the election result in the courts

He went on: "The AU preliminary report underlined in particular the strategic importance of the voters roll, and that by law it should have been made available to all political parties, yet observers saw no evidence that this was the case.

"This was a critical flaw."

Mr Hague said he also had concerns over reports of large numbers of voters being turned away, particularly in urban areas, the printing of "very high" numbers of extra ballot papers, and extra polling stations that were apparently added on election day.

"The irregularities in the lead up to the elections and on election day itself, reported by the observer missions and in contravention of SADC's guidelines, call into serious question the credibility of the election," he said.

"We note that some political parties have rejected the result on the basis of these irregularities.

"We will need to examine what has happened and consider further reports from regional and local observer missions.

"In the meantime, it is important that all allegations of electoral violations are thoroughly investigated.

"We will continue to support Zimbabwe and its people in their aspirations for a democratic, peaceful and prosperous future."

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