Zimbabwe opposition wins parliamentary control, presidential results awaited

HARARE, April 3, 2008 (AFP) – Zimbabweans waited anxiously on Thursday for an end to a deafening official silence over the outcome of their presidential election, after the opposition took control of parliament. The economy of Zimbabwe has been in meltdown since the start of the decade, with inflation now standing at over 100,000 percent and unemployment at beyond 80 percent. Even basic foodstuffs such as bread are now in scarce supply.

The country’s electoral commission wrapped up final results on the parliamentary contest in the early hours, in which President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) lost its majority to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Mugabe now faces the prospect of defeat in the presidential contest to his arch-rival MDC chief Morgan Tsvangirai, who Mugabe recently pledged would never rule in his lifetime.

Frustrated with the silence from the commission, the MDC pre-emptively released its own results on Wednesday indicating that Tsvangirai had won the presidency with more than 50 percent of votes.

While Mugabe’s government was quick to condemn the announcement, diplomatic sources indicated intensive behind-the-scenes