HARARE: Robert Mugabe's rivals rubbished his claim to election victory Thursday, branding the vote a "sham" and urging "passive resistance" as early results showed the Zimbabwean president's party taking a clear lead.
A top member of Mugabe's ZANU-PF party claimed Mugabe had trounced Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Wednesday's presidential and parliamentary elections.
"We have romped (to victory) in a very emphatic manner," said the party member who asked not to be named. "We have won all of them, including the presidential and parliamentary" (votes).
First official results from the disputed national assembly elections showed Mugabe's party storming ahead, winning 52 of 62 seats announced.
Zimbabwe's 6.4 million eligible voters were choosing a president, 210 lawmakers and municipal councillors.
But Tsvangirai, who is making his third bid to end 89-year-old Mugabe's 33-year rule, quickly slapped down the victory claims.
"It's a sham election that does not reflect the will of the people," he said, pointing to a litany of alleged irregularities.
"In our view this election is null and void," he added. "This election has been a huge farce."
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said the count has been completed and results are now being collated from the first vote since bloody polls in 2008 led to an uneasy power-sharing deal between Tsvangirai and Mugabe.
Tsvangirai stopped short of claiming victory himself, a move that could have enflamed tensions in a country where political violence is common.
But top MDC official Roy Bennett called for a campaign of "passive resistance."