Page last updated at 23:46 GMT, Tuesday, 1 April 2008 00:46 UK

'No deal' for Mugabe to step down

Robert Mugabe
President Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980

Zimbabwe's opposition leader and a government minister have denied reports that a deal has been reached for President Robert Mugabe to step down.

Morgan Tsvangirai said he believed his Movement for Democratic Change had won Saturday's election but declined to declare himself the winner.

He said his party would reveal their tally of results on Wednesday.

Bright Matonga, Zanu-PF's Deputy Information Minister, also rejected reports of a deal.

Parliamentary results released so far show that the MDC has 90 seats, including five for a breakaway faction of the party, against 85 for Zanu-PF, with 35 still to come.

'Vote for change'

As calls grew around the world for the final official results, the White House said it was clear the people of Zimbabwe had "voted for change".

Born: 1924
Trained as a teacher
1961: Married Ghanaian Sally Hayfron
1964: Imprisoned by Rhodesian government
1980: Wins post-independence elections
1996: Marries Grace Marufu
2000: Loses referendum
2000: Land invasions start
2002: Wins presidential elections, dismissed by western observers
2008: Runs for a sixth term as president

In his first public appearance since the election, Mr Tsvangirai told a news conference on Tuesday evening: "There is no way the MDC will enter in any deal before ZEC [Zimbabwe Electoral Commission] has actually announced the result. That's the legal position."

"It is not confirmed by the [ZEC]. So any speculation about deals, about negotiations, about reaching out is not there," he added.

Zanu-PF's deputy information minister said: "There are no discussions, no negotiations."

MDC opposition sources had earlier told the BBC the outline of a deal had nearly been reached for Mr Mugabe to step down.

They said representatives of Mr Mugabe, military chiefs and the opposition had held meetings chaired by South Africa, but that government had also denied any involvement.

Call for results

The ZEC has not yet given any results in the presidential race, sparking MDC claims the outcome was being fixed.

Independent observers say Mr Tsvangirai seems to have taken the most votes in the presidential race.

Parliamentary constituencies
MDC-Tsvangirai: 85
Zanu-PF: 85
Breakaway MDC faction: 5
Yet to declare: 35
Presidential results
None so far
Winner needs more than 50% to avoid run-off
Source: ZEC

But it is not clear if he won more than the 50% majority needed to avoid a second run-off vote, which would have to be held three weeks after the 29 March election.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, a coalition of civil society organisations, said its random sample of poll stations indicated Mr Tsvangirai had won just over 49% of the vote and Mr Mugabe 42%.

Simba Makoni, a former Mugabe loyalist, trailed at about 8%.

Mr Mugabe, 84, has not been seen in public since the election.

Meanwhile, Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the US National Security Council, said: "It's time for the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission to confirm the results we have all seen from the local polling stations and respected NGOs."

Lets hope that the next leader will be able to achieve the best for Zimbabwe

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for calm and transparency during Zimbabwe's vote-counting process.

Mr Ban urged the "utmost transparency be exercised so that the people of Zimbabwe can have full confidence in the process", his spokesman said.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, meanwhile, called for the results to be published "immediately".

The European Union called on the Zimbabwean president to step down.

"If Mr Mugabe continues, there will be a coup d'etat," said Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitri Rupel, whose country holds the EU presidency.

Results were posted for the first time in this election on the doors of Zimbabwe's polling stations, allowing groups such as the MDC and observers to compile independent results.

Mr Mugabe came to power 28 years ago at independence, but the economy has been in freefall in recent years.

Zimbabweans are suffering the world's highest inflation of more than 100,000%, food and fuel shortages, and life expectancy that has plunged to 35 years.

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