mugabe calls for dialogue

Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe yesterday called for dialogue between the country's political parties after being sworn in for a sixth term as president following the country's one-man election.

Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe yesterday called for dialogue between the country's political parties after being sworn in for a sixth term as president following the country's one-man election.

"Indeed it is my hope that sooner rather than later, we shall as diverse political parties hold consultations towards such serious dialogue as will minimise our difference and enhance the area of unity and cooperation," Mugabe said at his swearing-in ceremony.

The 84-year-old was speaking shortly after being declared the overwhelming winner of a presidential election run-off that was boycotted by opposition leader and first-round winner Morgan Tsvangirai.

The incumbent was sworn in as president for another five years at a ceremony in Harare after sweeping the polls in a go-it-alone presidential election run-off.

The BBC reported that Mugabe had been hastily sworn in after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) released the results.

Mugabe took 2 150 269 votes, against 233 000 for opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Morgan Tsvangirai, who had urged people not to vote for him after deciding to boycott the poll.

A further 131481 ballots were spoilt while voter turnout of 42,37 percent was akin to that of the first round of voting in March.

African election observers and human rights activists had, however, reported many voters were intimidated into turning out to vote by pro-Mugabe youth militia and soldiers.

The number of spoilt ballots reflected the frustration of many voters being forced into a vote slammed by the opposition and the West as a sham.

Tsvangirai withdrew from the run-off vote last week, citing fears for the safety of his supporters, 86 of whom have been killed.

The MDC has urged Zimbabwe's African neighbours, whose leaders are meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Monday not to recognise the vote outcome.- Sapa-dpa

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