Church leaders in Zimbabwe call upon Christians to pray for Peace as tension builds up following the announcement that President Mugabe and his party had won the disputed elections
Church leaders in Zimbabwe on Sunday appealed to the faithful to pray for peace after last week’s disputed elections gave longtime President Robert Mugabe a landslide victory in the presidential and parliamentary polls. The electoral commission announced on Saturday that Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party had won two-thirds of the parliamentary seats and that Mugabe himself had won the presidential election with 61%. The African Union and the Southern African Development Community, SADC, said last Thursday that the elections were free and fair, but other groups and independent observers said the polls were marred by irregularities including the disfranchising of voters believed to be supporters of the rival Movement for Democratic Change. About one million people in the strongholds of the Movement for Democratic Change did not vote because their names had been removed from the voters’ register. In those places the voters’ register was released just hours before the voting started. The Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe asked its followers on Sunday not to take part in any acts of violence. Similarly, on Sunday Catholic priests delivered a message from the Bishops Conference calling upon the faithful not to be consumed by bitterness that leads to violence. The Catholic Church deployed many people to monitor the elections. The monitors said last Wednesday that the voting was characterized by widespread irregularities. Mr. Mugabe’s party is worried that there might be violence especially from members of the opposition who were prevented from voting. As a result, it has deployed heavily armed police who on Sunday mounted extra roadblocks in the capital, Harare, ready to deal with any protests. Soldiers were also deployed in some parts of the city.