Voting in Zimbabwe starts amid accusations of rigged outcome

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Thursday, March 31, 2005

The main opposition — the Movement for Democratic Change, claims that the election has been rigged.

Elections in Zimbabwe began with both the ruling and opposition parties predicting victory.

Current president Robert Mugabe predicts a "mountainous victory" for his party, the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF). The main opposition — Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) claims the election is being rigged, and despite being allowed to freely campaign, the government's intimidation of voters and moves to hurt opposition supporters will prevent the MDC win.

The government recently withheld food aid from those supporting the MDC, according to a United Nations report. The UN further reports the government dismissed election officials and poll workers suspected of supporting MDC.

Criticism of the government has been loud. Last week, a Catholic archbishop in Zimbabwe urged followers to start a non-violent, popular uprising against Mugabe, and rallies have been common in recent days. The previous elections, which the MDC almost won, were marred by violence and similar allegations of vote-rigging.

More than 5.7 million Zimbabweans are registered to vote, and can cast their ballots at one of the more than 8,000 polling stations.