US sharpens criticism of Mugabe


Harare/Washington : The United States Friday sharpened its criticism of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe’s regime, five weeks after the disputed presidential elections.

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US State Department spokesman Tom Casey, in unusually sharp tones, called for an end to the violence against the opposition, indirectly signalling Washington’s desire to see Mugabe relinquish power.

The verification process of the Zimbabwe presidential election entered its second day Friday amid reports that the parties were deadlocked with the opposition continuing to say it won the poll.

The US had cast doubt on the credibility of the election results and said it was hard to see how a run-off could be fair because of state-orchestrated violence.

“President Mugabe must call off his dogs and cease his security services and his supporters’ attacks on those who are simply trying to express their views,” said Casey.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) claims that it won the election with an outright majority but Mugabe’s Zanu PF argues that a run-off is needed.

“It seems as if the (electoral) commission is determined to announce the results as a matter of urgency, but we will not accept that, or we will reject the results because we have some serious concerns,” a representative of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Chris Mbanga, said Friday.

Since there were “very big differences in figures,” the MDC might ask to go “constituency by constituency,” he said.