Mugabe denies vote-rig claims
ON the eve of elections in Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe has denied that his supporters have engaged in vote-rigging – despite widespread allegations of irregularities in the run-up to the polls.
He also said he would step down if he loses the elections after 33 years at the helm of a once prosperous nation whose economy is now in dire shape.
Western governments have condemned previous elections won by Mr Mugabe, alleging the vote was swayed by political violence, intimidation and ballot rigging.
While this campaign has so far been far less violent than past elections, there are numerous signs that the electoral process has been vulnerable to manipulation, raising prospects of more political uncertainty ahead.
"We have done no cheating, never, ever," Mr Mugabe (89) told a news conference in Harare yesterday.
He brushed aside allegations that loyalist commanders in the police and military will not accept a poll victory by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (61), the former opposition leader, and allow him to succeed as the nation's new president.
In previous campaign appearances, however, Mr Mugabe has levelled harsh attacks against Mr Tsvangirai.
Mr Mugabe described campaigning as peaceful except for "a few incidents here and there".