[JURIST] Zimbabweans voted Saturday in local, senate, assembly and presidential elections amid opposition allegations that the government was rigging the results. President Robert Mugabe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] was challenged by ruling party defector Simba Makoni [official website] and opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) [official website] leader Morgan Tsvangirai [BBC profile]. MDC officials claimed detergent could remove voting ink from ballots and that the three million extra ballots and a bloated voter roll 'ensures that there will be multiple voting.' The two opposition parties will likely unite if no candidate wins more than 51 percent of the vote and the election goes into a second round.
Mugabe, now 84 years old, has served as the head of government in Zimbabwe [JURIST news archive] since 1980, when the country attained independence from Britain. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] raised doubts about Saturday's election in a report [text] last week, suggesting that it was likely to be "deeply flawed." Despite concerns about fairness, analysts project that the election poses the biggest threat to Mugabe's rule [BBC report] since he took office. Reuters has more.