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Mugabe's Party Says Zimbabwe President Is Prepared for Runoff Vote

  • VOA News

Zimbabwe's ruling party says President Robert Mugabe will compete in a second round of voting if the electoral commission declares a run-off necessary in the country's presidential race.

A senior ruling party official Didymus Mutasa made the announcement Friday after party leaders spent five hours discussing last Saturday's hotly contested vote.

The electoral commission has not said whether it will hold another round of voting, nor has it even released results of the first round. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he won the election outright, with more than 50 percent of the ballots cast.

The Movement for Democratic Change, Zimbabwe's main opposition group, filed suit in the High Court Friday, demanding the final results.

Official results of last week's elections gave the MDC control of the lower house of Parliament, but Mr. Mugabe's (ZANU-PF) party says it is asking for a recount in 16 districts.

Zimbabwe's opposition and the international community are questioning why the government has not released the presidential election results.

A U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey)said Friday that the longer the delay, the more suspicious the results become.

An independent monitoring group (the Zimbabwean Elections Support Network) says Mr. Tsvangirai did win the most votes in the presidential election, but fell short of a majority.

By law, run-off elections in Zimbabwe must be held within 21 days, but diplomats and opposition officials say Mr. Mugabe is planning to wait three months before allowing a new vote to proceed.

In Harare Friday, a group of war veterans paraded silently through the capital to show their support for President Mugabe.

The 84-year-old president has ruled Zimbabwe since it gained independence from Britain in 1980. Supporters hail him as a hero of the independence movement, but critics say his policies have ruined Zimbabwe's economy. The nation suffers from chronic food shortages and hyperinflation - prices rising so rapidly that the annual inflation rate is more than 100 thousand percent.

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