Mugabe acknowledges election disaster
Saturday, 17 May 2008

Run-off date set

AFP, HARARE - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe acknowledged Friday he had suffered an electoral disaster in losing a first round against arch rival Morgan Tsvangirai, as the date for a run-off was fixed for June 27.

In his first detailed comments since losing a joint presidential and parliamentary election on March 29, Africa's oldest leader lambasted his party and also accused the opposition of embarking on a campaign of terror.

Tsvangirai meanwhile said he was confident of winning the run-off and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party said he would return home on Saturday to begin a final push for power after more than a month out of the country.

The 84-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled the former British colony since independence in 1980, won 43.2 percent of votes against 47.9 percent for Tsvangirai in the first round and in theory is now the underdog.

With his Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party having also lost control of parliament, Mugabe made no attempt to disguise his fury at the outcome as he addressed its central committee.

"Although the presidential result did not yield an outright winner it was indeed disastrous," he said.

"Fundamentally we went to the election completely unprepared, unorganised ... As leaders we all share the blame, from the national level to that of branch chairman.

"Nevertheless we are set for a second round, for the run-off which must now decide the winner."

The period since election day has been marked by increased violence and the opposition says more than 30 of its supporters have died at the hands of Mugabe followers.

In a report this week, the senior UN representative in Zimbabwe said while both parties had been guilty of attacks, ZANU-PF were the main perpetrators.

However Mugabe blamed the opposition, accusing its supporters of "visiting terror on villages and (ZANU-PF) party supporters".

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