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Page last updated at 21:11 GMT, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 22:11 UK

Mugabe rival sets run-off terms

Morgan Tsvangirai prepares for a TV interview in Johannesburg, 14 April 2008
The MDC says Morgan Tsvangirai won the presidential vote

Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai will not contest a run-off election unless certain conditions are met, a spokesman for his party says.

Mr Tsvangirai's party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), believes he won last month's election against President Robert Mugabe outright.

MDC spokesman George Sibotshiwe said a secure environment had to exist first, with thorough international monitoring.

But current conditions did not allow for a free and fair vote, he said.

The party would only take part if the Southern African Development Community could help oversee every stage of the count, he added.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called on the authorities to make the election results public.

Earlier, a national strike called by the MDC to demand that results from the 29 March election be published immediately received little apparent support.

Zimbabwean police reported arresting 30 MDC supporters for obstruction and intimidation.

Dire economy

Those arrested were found either "barricading roads and stopping people from going to work", "obstructing the free movement of traffic" or intimidating people who went to work, police said.

Zimbabwean vendors go to work in Harare, 15 April 2008

Most banks, shops and offices opened as usual, reports from the capital Harare say.

The BBC's Peter Biles in Johannesburg says a strike call was never likely to be heeded by many workers, such is the desperate state of Zimbabwe's economy.

In South Africa, the governing African National Congress made its boldest statement so far on Zimbabwe, saying it regarded the situation in the country as "dire".

Zimbabwe's election commission says it cannot release the results of the presidential election until a partial recount is completed at the weekend.

Mr Ban called for the "very transparent and expeditious release of election results".

Independent counts suggested Mr Tsvangirai won the election but took less than 50% of the vote, meaning he would face a run-off.

'Two dead'

The MDC had previously said it would not take part in a run-off because it might lead to violence and the intimidation of the party's supporters around the country.

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Victims of the intimidation and violence of the Zimbabwe elections

MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti told the BBC on Tuesday that two of its activists had been killed and 200 hospitalised after being assaulted by ruling party militias.

The party has said its supporters have been beaten up in rural areas where the MDC won.

On Monday, Zimbabwe's High Court dismissed an opposition petition for the results to be released immediately, saying reported anomalies should first be investigated.

In last month's elections Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF lost its parliamentary majority for the first time during his 28-year rule.

But the party could recover that majority if it is awarded just nine of the 23 seats subject to a recount.



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