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Mugabe rally stampede kills one in Zimbabwe


08:41, July 17, 2013

HARARE, July 16 (Xinhua) -- One person was killed Tuesday in a stampede at an election rally as thousands of supporters of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe overwhelmed a stadium in a satellite town two weeks before the country holds crucial general elections, police said.

Charity Charamba, chief spokesperson of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, confirmed to Xinhua in a telephone interview that the victim was a female in her 50s. The stampede occurred as people forced themselves into a packed stadium in Chitungwiza, about 30 km south of Harare, to hear Mugabe addressing the crowd.

No others were seriously injured according to the police on the ground, Charamba said.

It is the fourth rally since the 89-year-old Mugabe launched his intensive campaign rally last week. High supporter turn-outs were reported in all the rallies. The octogenerian leader, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980, is seeking another five-year term against his arch-rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Rugare Gumbo, a spokesman for Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, estimates that there are 10,000 people who attended Tuesday's event. He said organizers did not anticipate such a large crowd.

The tragedy came as the electoral process was marred by chaos lately as slow printing of the ballot papers had delayed the voting among nearly 70,000 police officers in an early vote held on Sunday and Monday.

Tsvangirai's party has criticized the incompetence of the electoral commission and expressed doubts over the commission's ability to hold elections on July 31, when more than 6 million people are expected to cast their ballots across the country with roughly the size of Germany.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, on the other hand, reassured the public that the delays won't happen again as it is more experienced with general elections than the special early vote arranged for security and election officials who will be on duty on the election date.

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