Supporters of Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party have been celebrating his re-election victory in Zimbabwe, unperturbed by claims of fraud from the opposition and western governments.
The country’s electoral panel declared the veteran leader had won a landslide victory in the presidential and parliamentary polls.
Mugabe now begins a seventh term in office.
“We have made a big history for our country, for everybody in Zimbabwe. We are very happy, everyone here in Zimbabwe is very happy. Zimbabwe will never be a colony again,” said ZANU-PF supporter Albert Chabvuta.
The country won independence from the UK in 1980. Robert Mugabe – nationalist hero to some, ruthless despot to others – has been congratulated by the South African president for his victory.
But defeated opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has vowed to contest the results in court and says his Movement for Democratic Change will refuse to work with Mugabe.
Monitors from the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) who observed them made a point of stressing that they were peaceful, in contrast to the violence of 2008 polls, and also endorsed them as broadly free.
But independent domestic monitors described it as “seriously compromised” by registration problems that may have disenfranchised up to a million people.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the reported irregularities “call into serious question the credibility of the election”.
The 28-nation European Union has also pointed to “identified weaknesses in the electoral process and a lack of transparency.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry spelled out Washington’s distrust of the result in no uncertain terms.
“Make no mistake: in light of substantial electoral irregularities reported by domestic and regional observers, the United States does not believe that the results announced … represent a credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people,” he said in a strongly worded statement on Saturday.