Page last updated at 14:50 GMT, Wednesday, 2 April 2008 15:50 UK

Zimbabwe opposition claim victory

MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, 2008
The MDC says its leader won with just over 50% of the vote

Zimbabwe's opposition party says its leader Morgan Tsvangirai has won the presidential election, releasing its own results to back up the claim.

MDC Party Secretary General Tendai Biti said Mr Tsvangirai had won 50.3% of the vote to President Robert Mugabe's 43.8%, so avoiding a run-off.

Results have yet to be officially declared but the state-run Herald newspaper has predicted a run-off.

The ruling Zanu-PF party has dismissed the MDC claim as "wishful thinking".

Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga said it was irresponsible and could incite violence.


In his news conference, Mr Biti said there was "anxiety and disappointment" at the failure of the Zimbabwe Election Commission to declare presidential results.

This had produced a vacuum, he said, giving room for all sorts of rumours.

The root cause of all Zimbabwe's teething problems is Mugabe's failure to hold free and fair elections
Wilbert Mukori

But Mr Biti said that if the election commission decided that neither of the main candidates had won outright, the MDC would be prepared to take part in a second round.

According to the MDC's tally, Simba Makoni, an independent and former Mugabe loyalist, won 7%.

Despite the MDC's declaration, the issue of whether Mr Tsvangirai has won more than 50% remains in dispute.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, a coalition of civil society organisations, said earlier that he had won 49% to Mr Mugabe's 42%.

It based its results on a random sample of polling stations.

'Fatally damaged'

In a separate development, a senior Zanu-PF official has told a BBC correspondent in Zimbabwe that he believes Mr Mugabe has been fatally damaged.

The official, who did not want to be identified, said that by not declaring victory on Sunday or Monday, Mr Mugabe had shown weakness.

Now, he told our correspondent, civil servants and police were determined to show even-handedness in their treatment of the Zanu-PF and the opposition.

Earlier, election officials said the verification of results in the presidential election had begun.

They said the process was taking place in the presence of the presidential candidates' chief polling agents in Harare.

Parliamentary constituencies
MDC-Tsvangirai: 96
Zanu-PF: 93
Breakaway MDC faction: 5
Yet to declare: 21
Presidential results
None so far
Winner needs more than 50% to avoid run-off
Source: ZEC

Zanu-PF has also rejected suggestions that talks have been taking place with the MDC on a possibly handover of power.

MDC sources had earlier told the BBC that the outline of an agreement had nearly been reached for Mr Mugabe to leave office.

In his first public appearance since the election, Mr Tsvangirai told a news conference on Tuesday evening there was "no way the MDC will enter in any deal before ZEC has actually announced the result".

Presidential results
MDC-Tsvangirai: 50.3%
Zanu-PF-Mugabe: 43.8%
Independent-Makoni: 7%

In the separate parliamentary race, results released so far show that the MDC has 96 seats, including five for a breakaway faction of the party, against 93 for Zanu-PF, with 21 still to come.

Quoting analysts, the Herald newspaper said on Wednesday that the "pattern of results" indicated by the tight parliamentary race showed a presidential re-run would be necessary.

The Herald is generally seen as reflecting government thinking.


While the atmosphere on Zimbabwe's streets remains peaceful, if tense, there are fears that prolonging the declaration of results could lead to violence.

Roadblocks have been set up around the capital, Harare, and there has been a marked increase in the presence of paramilitary police on the streets of major cities.

Born: 1924
Trained as a teacher
1961: Married Ghanaian Sally Hayfron
1964: Imprisoned by Rhodesian government
1980: Wins post-independence elections
1980s: Accusations of atrocities in south-west
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

As pressure grew around the world for final results to be declared, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for calm.

He urged the "utmost transparency be exercised so that the people of Zimbabwe can have full confidence in the process".

The White House said it was clear the people of Zimbabwe had "voted for change".

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown called for the results of the presidential election to be published as soon as possible.

"What we want to see is that the whole of the Zimbabwean people can be guaranteed that the elections are fair and are seen to be fair, and we get the democratic outcome that the people of Zimbabwe have chosen," he said.

Mr Mugabe, 84, has not been seen in public since the election but Mr Matonga has denied rumours the president had left the country.

He came to power 28 years ago at independence but in recent years Zimbabwe has been plagued by the world's highest inflation, as well as acute food and fuel shortages.

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