How quickly the mood, and the forecasts, can change. Last weekend, Zimbabwe was preparing for elections intended to seal the transition to the post-Mugabe era through the democratic process. There was praise for the spirited and generally orderly campaign; optimism that the elections – for both president and parliament – would be judged (sufficiently) free and fair, and joy pervading the lines of voters waiting patiently from early Monday morning to perform their civic duty.
Nowhere perhaps was the relief more palpable than in the corridors of power in London. The former colonial power tried not to sound too patronising as it willed this particularly troubled child to come at last, responsibly, of age.
Within 48 hours of the polls closing, however, much of that hope had been shattered. With the ruling Zanu-PF declared to have won two-thirds of parliamentary seats and no result even on the horizon for the presidency, angry crowds descended on the electoral commission in the capital, calling the vote “stolen” and “rigged”. There were running battles with the police; the army was ordered in, and calm was restored only because of troops on the streets and military helicopters overhead. By this time, many were injured and at least four people were dead.
more: and video report: