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Zimbabwe opposition boycotts by-elections

Mugabe

Mugabe

Zimbabwe voted Wednesday in parliamentary by-elections expected to strengthen the dominance of President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party after the main opposition boycotted the ballot.

The elections were held to fill 16 seats after the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) fired 14 lawmakers who formed a splinter party, and two other MPs were expelled from ZANU-PF for being aligned with former vice-president Joice Mujuru.

Mujuru was sacked by Mugabe in December after she was accused of plotting to unseat him.

ZANU-PF is running unopposed in several constituencies, including in the east of the capital Harare.

The MDC pulled out of the by-elections alleging intimidation of supporters, and being denied access to the electoral roll, which it claimed was stuffed with the names of deceased voters.

Voter turnout appeared to be low, at least at two voting stations in Harare.

“Few people are bothered about elections,” shop assistant Emion Chirime told AFP. “The main thing on people’s minds is how to survive in these tough times.”

Elections in Zimbabwe are usually a one-horse race for ZANU-PF, which has ruled since the country gained independence from Britain in 1980.

Harare-based political analyst Charles Mangongera said the by-elections would hand more urban constituencies to ZANU-PF, which had lost control of some towns and cities to the opposition.

“The party is using these by-elections to register voters and prepare for general elections in 2018,” political analyst Charles Mangongera told AFP.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai urged his supporters to spoil their ballot papers.

Results were due late Wednesday or Thursday.

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