Will Africa take action against Zimbabwe's Mugabe?
The African Union is expected to discuss the issue in Egypt Monday, one day after Mugabe declared a 'sweeping victory' in Friday's presidential runoff, which was widely condemned as a sham.
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Across the country on Friday, voters turned out in low numbers, if at all. In the opposition stronghold of Matabeleland in the south and west, voter turnout was estimated to be around 14 percent by the independent civil society group, Bulawayo Agenda. In the towns of Gweru, for instance, polling stations opened at 7 a.m., with not a voter in sight. During the first round on March 29, voters in Gweru had queued up for hours before the polling stations opened.Skip to next paragraph
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Voters deliberately spoiling ballots
In other regions, voters dipped their fingers in indelible ink and then spoiled their ballots deliberately once inside the polling stations.
In Harare, members of the ruling ZANU-PF youth militia and war veterans moved from house to house, ordering people to go and vote for Mugabe.
In most parts of the country, those who would have voted were required to go to "a ZANU-PF base" and submit their names and the serial number from ballot paper.
"The youth militia were saying if I don't submit my serial number and identification number I will be in big trouble, so I did as they wanted," a young voter who resides in the Highfield neighborhood of Harare told the Monitor. "This is persecution, it should not be allowed to happen in a civilized country like Zimbabwe."
Outside the Mhiza polling station in Highfield, people could be heard urging each other to spoil their ballots, voting for both Mugabe and Tsvangirai, in order to render the ballot paper unusable.
"What I wanted is to dip my finger into the ink so that when the militia come they will not beat me because I would have voted," said one voter who did not want to be named for fear of violence from Mugabe's loyalists.
However, despite the widespread intimidation, some people, especially in Harare's high density suburbs, did not vote saying they did not want to waste their time participating in any election whose outcome is predetermined. Many stayed home. Even Harare's central business district was deserted.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the US and Britain would present a resolution to the UN Security Council calling for tougher action against Mugabe and his supporters. "Its time for the international community to act," she said. "It's hard to imagine that anybody could fail to act given what we're all watching on the ground in Zimbabwe."
Yet South Africa, which has a seat on the Security Council, vowed to block the resolution, and Zimbabwe's neighbors said they believed a less confrontational approach was more likely to bear fruit.
• Reporters who could not be named for security reasons contributed from Harare, Bulawayo, Mashvingo, and Mutare, Zimbabwe.