Mugabe trying to steal Zimbabwe election: Australia

SYDNEY, April 22, 2008 (AFP) – Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe is trying to steal last month’s election and the so-called recount of votes is a sham, Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Tuesday. MDC secretary general Tendai Biti has charged that 10 MDC supporters have been killed and thousands forced to flee their homes following attacks by pro-Mugabe vigilantes.

“It is now absolutely apparent that Mr Mugabe will do anything to steal this election,” Smith told a news conference.

“It is quite clear that their so-called recount is nothing but a sham…a blatant attempt by Mr Mugabe to either avoid a presidential run-off or have a presidential run-off in which intimidation, threats, thuggery pervert the will of the Zimbabwean people.”

Smith said Australia was increasingly concerned by reports of growing post-election violence in Zimbabwe, where the results of the presidential vote on March 29 have not been released.

With the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai claiming victory but Mugabe refusing to concede defeat, Smith called for pressure to be maintained on Zimbabwe to release the results.

He urged African neighbours and the internatio