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Polls Open for Disputed Election in Zimbabwe

In Zimbabwe, polls opened Friday morning for a presidential runoff where only one candidate is actually running. Opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai dropped out after scores of his supporters were killed and others brutalized. Robert Mugabe is therefore poised to remain president.

Leaders from around the world have condemned the vote as a sham and called on the president to postpone the election, which Mugabe has refused to do.

NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, who is monitoring the situation from neighboring South Africa, tells co-host Renee Montagne that turnout at the polls has been low. But "the opposition has been saying for the last 24 hours or so that people are going to be forced to vote for President Robert Mugabe," Quist-Arcton says.

She says Mugabe's thugs reportedly have been holding "a sort of powwow" where people are being ordered to vote for him. Anyone who doesn't have the purple dye on their finger that indicates they have voted will be revealed as an opposition supporter, "which means trouble," she says.

Tsvangirai, meanwhile, is staying at the Dutch Embassy in the capital, Harare, where he took refuge earlier this week. He has not indicated what his plans are, but he told his supporters, "Don't risk your life — the people's victory may be delayed, but it won't be denied," Quist-Arcton says. He is counting on the support of neighboring African nations and the international community.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Renee Montagne, one of the best-known names in public radio, is a special correspondent and host for NPR News.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is an award-winning broadcaster from Ghana and is NPR's Africa Correspondent. She describes herself as a "jobbing journalist"—who's often on the hoof, reporting from somewhere.