Zimbabwean women shop for vegetables in Jambanja market in Seke, south… (Alexander Joe / AFP/Getty…)
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled the country for 33 years, was reelected president in an election declared a "farce" by rival Morgan Tsvangirai.
Zimbabwe's electoral commission announced Saturday that Mugabe, 89, had received 61% of the vote, compared with 34% for Tsvangirai, the current prime minister and leader of the Movement for Democratic Change party, or MDC.
The vote has been condemned as seriously compromised by the largest local observer group, the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network. African observers have commended the election for being peaceful — in contrast with previous elections — while expressing mild concern about voting irregularities.
The European Union on Saturday raised doubts about the polling.
"The EU is concerned about alleged irregularities and reports of incomplete participation, as well as the identified weaknesses in the electoral process and a lack of transparency. The EU will continue to follow developments and work closely with its international partners in the weeks to come," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement.
Britain also expressed "grave concerns" Saturday about how the election was conducted, in particular condemning the voters roll. The concerns of Britain and the EU raise the possibility that the EU, which lifted sanctions against Mugabe and senior government figures in March, may reimpose them.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the voters roll was a critical flaw. The MDC says the roll contained hundreds of thousands of ghosts, while living voters couldn't find their names on it. Hague called for an investigation of the MDC's allegations of electoral fraud.
Tsvangirai said the results were a "farce" and should be declared "null and void" but ruled out violence, calling for a new election.
"The fraudulent and stolen election has plunged Zimbabwe into a constitutional, political and economic crisis." he said. "The MDC is resolved to pursue peaceful, democratic and constitutional remedies to this crisis."
Tsvangirai said his party had evidence of massive vote rigging.
"People of Zimbabwe must be given another chance to participate in a free, fair and credible election. They have been shortchanged by a predetermined election," he said.
For Tsvangirai's party, the parliamentary vote was catastrophic. It won 50 seats, compared with 158 for Mugabe's ZANU-PF, giving the ruling party the power to change the constitution at will. Two other seats went to independents.