- The Washington Times - Friday, April 25, 2008

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — The top U.S. envoy to Africa said yesterday that Zimbabwe’s opposition leader won the nation’s disputed presidential election and that President Robert Mugabe should step down.

The opposition say Morgan Tsvangirai beat Mr. Mugabe outright in the March 29 vote. Independent Zimbabwean observers also say Mr. Tsvangirai won, although not by enough to avoid a runoff.

“We think in this situation we have a clear victor,” said Jendayi Frazer, assistant U.S. secretary of state for African affairs, citing the independent figures. “Morgan Tsvangirai won, and perhaps outright, at which point you don’t need a government of national unity. You have to accept the result.”

The estimate she cited gave Mr. Tsvangirai 49.4 percent of the vote. Accounting for the margin of error, the projection does not rule out that Mr. Tsvangirai could have won the 50 percent plus one vote needed for outright victory.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network based its estimate on a sample of individual polling station results posted outside stations across Zimbabwe. Mr. Mugabe was projected to come in second with about 42 percent. Independent candidate Simba Makoni trailed at about 8 percent.

Zimbabweans are still waiting for the official results. Ms. Frazer was responding to questions about whether some kind of power-sharing agreement could resolve the impasse.

“President Mugabe should respect the will of the people and allow a new president to come in,” she said. “He contested for president and he lost.”

The new president should be Mr. Tsvangirai, she said.

Ms. Frazer was speaking in South Africa at the start of a visit to increase international pressure on the government in Zimbabwe, where human rights leaders and church leaders have reported a brutal campaign against the people and communities that voted against Mr. Mugabe and his ruling party.

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