Harare - The African Union observer mission to last week's presidential election in Zimbabwe that returned Robert Mugabe uncontested as leader for a further five years said Monday the poll had failed to meet AU standards.
"It is the considered view of the AU observer mission that the election process fell short of accepted AU standards," the observers said, echoing findings by two other African observer missions, one from the Pan-African Parliament, the other from the Southern African Development Community.
The AU team pointed to high levels of violence in the run-up to the June 27 vote that Mugabe alone contested after opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew at the eleventh hour, citing fears for the safety of his supporters.
At least 86 MDC supporters have been killed by state-backed militia following Tsvangirai's win in the first round of the presidential elections in March.
The AU found that the climate of fear created by those attacks had spurred Zimbabweans to participate in the election, in which Mugabe took 86 per cent of the vote.
The AU also pointed out the unequal access by Mugabe and Tsvangirai to the public media during campaigning but sounded an optimistic note about talks between the two camps on a powersharing agreement.
"The observers were encouraged that both parties have shown willingness to engage in a constructive dialogue as a way forward for ensuring peace, stability and development in Zimbabwe." (dpa)
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