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  Zimbabwe releases first election results
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Last EditedAJ  Mar 31, 2008 03:15am
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News DateMonday, March 31, 2008 09:05:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionHARARE, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe's Electoral Commission began announcing official results Monday of elections the opposition party claims to have won, after a delay that heightened fears of rigging and brought security forces onto the streets.

In an early morning nationwide broadcast on radio and television, the deputy chief elections officer, Utoile Silaigwana, announced the results for six parliament seats — three of which went to President Robert Mugabe's ruling party and three to the opposition.

Then he went off the air saying, "We'll be back with you when we have more results."

The piecemeal announcement could not be explained since election observers have said some initial results were known as early as 11 p.m. Saturday night, some four hours after polls closed. In previous elections, partial results have been announced within hours of voting ending.

"Clearly the delay is fueling speculation that something might be going on," said Noel Kututwa, chairman of a network of civic, church and other groups.

Voting in Saturday's elections — which presented Mugabe, 84, with the toughest challenge ever to his 28-year rule — was generally peaceful. Discontent with Mugabe has grown around the country, where unemployment stands at 80 percent. The same percentage of Zimbabweans survives on less than $1 a day. Inflation is the highest in the world at more than 100,000 percent and people suffer crippling shortages of food, water, electricity, fuel and medicine.
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