AU calls for immediate release of election results

JOHANNESBURG - The African Union (AU) on Sunday called on the Zimbabwe electoral authorities to immediately release the results of the March 29 elections that President Robert Mugabe is believed to have lost.

 In statement from its Addis Ababa headquarters, the union said releasing results would help ease an election stalemate that political analysts and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party have warned could easily boil over into violence and bloodshed.

 “The African Union wishes to express its concern over the delay observed in the announcement of Zimbabwe’s election results, which creates an atmosphere of tension,” said the AU.

 “The African Union therefore urges competent authorities of the Republic of Zimbabwe to announce the results without any further delay, in transparency, thus contributing, inter alia, to reducing the prevailing tension.”

 The AU has been under pressure to take more decisive action to help end a stalemate that began after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) released results of parliamentary elections but withheld those of a parallel presidential election that MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai claims he won.

 The MDC, which last week lost a court bid to force the ZEC to release results of the presidential poll, has accused the commission of withholding results in a bid to fix the vote and force a re-run of the poll that it says Mugabe is preparing to use violence and terror to win.

 The United States, Britain and other key Western nations have criticised Mugabe’s handling of the elections and used a summit of the United Nations (UN) Security Council and the African Union (AU) last week to call for tougher action to end Zimbabwe’s election stalemate and the violence it has bred.

 But the AU has largely given a muted response to Zimbabwe’s crisis, even as the MDC reported rising violence against its supporters.

 Meanwhile, a senior official of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said a summit of the regional body on poverty and Development taking place in Mauritius was unlikely to make a statement on Zimbabwe because it was not convened to discuss political issues.

 Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told the summit that Nordic countries were prepared to launch a “major stabilisation and reconstruction package when democracy is fully restored and a credible national economic policy is in place.” – ZimOnline.

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