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Tsvangirai says he won but ready for runoff

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he had won the 29 March elections outright but he was prepared for a runoff provided it was held 21 days after the announcement of the results.

He said he had information that President Robert Mugabe was prepared to postpone the runoff by six months and had been advised that he could do so legally.

Tsvangirai said a context held in three to six months would not be a runoff but a new election.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08HARARE278, SITUATION REPORT: WAITING GAME OR END GAME? THE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE278

2008-04-04 11:46

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

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FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2701

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1882

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2005

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000278

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S. HILL

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/04/2018

TAGS: KDEM PGOV PHUM ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: SITUATION REPORT: WAITING GAME OR END GAME? THE

OPPOSITION REMAINS PATIENT, FOR NOW

 

REF: HARARE 275

 

Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Six days after Zimbabwe’s national

elections, the waiting game for official results continues

amid rumors of a runoff, escalating tensions, and hopes for a

peaceful end to the political crisis. On April 4, opposition

presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai updated the

diplomatic corps in a closed-door briefing. Following a night

of searches and arrests by Zimbabwe’s security forces,

Tsvangirai reiterated his party’s commitment to demonstrating

 

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restraint while still calling for the electoral commission to

confirm results. Tsvangirai again stated that he was willing

to participate in a runoff (despite his belief that he won

the election outright), but only within the 21 day period

specified by the law. He urged the international community

to continue its calls for results to be released. Patient up

to this point, it is unclear how much longer the MDC, and the

country, can wait for results. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) Describing the current situation as a “continued,

intractable predicament,” MDC presidential candidate Morgan

Tsvangirai held a closed-door briefing for the diplomatic

 

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corps on April 4, a full six days after the March 29

presidential and parliamentary elections. Tsvangirai

cautioned against hopes of an imminent announcement of

results by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), stating

that it may be another two to three days before ZEC completes

verification of the presidential vote. He noted that despite

escalating tensions, including the search of the MDC,s

command center and arrests of journalists and NGO workers

made overnight (reftel), the MDC would continue to show

restraint while waiting for the results and the Mugabe

regime’s reaction. Tsvangirai stated that the MDC had heard

a rumor that MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti had been

arrested. (NOTE: We later learned from MDC sources that Biti

was not in custody. END NOTE.) It is feared, though, that

authorities are seeking to detain and possibly charge him for

announcing, before official election results, that the MDC

had won.

 

3. (SBU) Tsvangirai again stated that while he was confident

that he had won the election outright with over 50 percent of

the vote, he remained willing to contest in a runoff.

However, he was adamant that the runoff take place within 21

days following the announcement of the results, as specified

in the Electoral Act. Tsvangirai reported that the MDC “has

it on good authority” that Mugabe was considering delaying

the runoff by three to six months, a change that Tsvangirai

described as “against the will of the people.” The MDC

understood that Mugabe had been advised by the Attorney

General that he could authorize the delay by presidential

decree. Tsvangirai likened such a move to “a player acting

as a referee, changing the goal posts to suit his position.”

The MDC legal team was exploring whether a presidential

decree would be legal. Tsvangirai also noted that he

expected the runoff would proceed under the same parameters

as the first round and would include the presence of

independent observers and the media.

 

4. (SBU) Tsvangirai went on to decry the ongoing political

stalemate while the country “is on its knees” and called for

those who have influence over Mugabe to advise him that it

was in his best interest to accept defeat. Tsvangirai noted

that ZANU-PF was unable to pay for a runoff within the next

21 days and that such an exercise would only serve to further

polarize the political situation, removing the opportunity

for national reconciliation and a dignified exit for Mugabe.

Tsvangirai stated that a contest held in three to six months

 

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was no longer a runoff, but a new election; one that would be

 

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held in a different political climate.

 

5. (SBU) Addressing concerns about the detention and arrest

of foreign journalists the previous night, Tsvangirai

criticized the Mugabe regime for restricting media access to

the country. He also advised diplomats to tell the media to

be cautious and not invite intervention by police by

operating without accreditation. Tsvangirai stated that he

believed security forces remained willing to protect the will

of the people and respect the constitution, despite their

politicization under ZANU-PF.

 

6. (SBU) Tsvangirai confirmed that he had spoken with a

number of African leaders and members of the international

community, including Kofi Annan and South African President

Thabo Mbeki. Tsvangirai applauded Mbeki’s April 3 statement

calling for the results to be respected by all parties.

Tsvangirai urged the international community to continue to

 

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demand the announcement of official results and for ZEC and

ZANU-PF to act within the confines of the law.

 

7. (SBU) Tsvangirai also confirmed that the results announced

up to this point by ZEC coincided with the MDC’s own tally

based on vote totals posted outside polling sites. He

expressed satisfaction that the democratic opposition would

now control parliament and expected that the MDC would work

closely with other opposition MPs toward an absolute majority

of 106 seats.

 

8. (SBU) COMMENT: Amid concerns about a government crackdown

against the opposition and civil society, the MDC continues

to calmly and cautiously wait for the ZEC announcement, play

down fears of mass violence, and reach out to the

international community. However, Tsvangirai’s patience may

begin to run thin if Mugabe moves to extend the runoff period

or continues his intimidation tactics against the opposition.

The willingness to wait by Zimbabweans has been commendable,

but if an end to the standoff does not come soon, such

restraint may come off the table. END COMMENT.

 

MCGEE

(22 VIEWS)

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