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Page last updated at 14:40 GMT, Wednesday, 23 April 2008 15:40 UK

First results in Zimbabwe recount

Ballot boxes guarded by police in the Domboshava training centre, Zimbabwe
Recounts are being conducted of 23 constituencies

The results of the first recounts in Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections are in, with the ruling and opposition parties retaining one seat each.

The ruling Zanu-PF party held its seat in Goromonzi West, while the opposition MDC held on to Zaka West, the Zimbabwe Election Commission said.

The MDC says the recounts are an attempt to rig the election and overturn its parliamentary majority.

Meanwhile, the UK says it will press for an arms embargo on Zimbabwe.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he would propose the international embargo to prevent a shipment of weapons from reaching the country.

Seats retained

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said the recounts in two of 23 disputed constituencies had confirmed the initial results.

There is no clear winner. No-one has got 51%. Therefore we should gear ourselves for a re-run
Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga

The ZEC says it cannot publish the official presidential result until it completes the recount of presidential and parliamentary votes.

Zanu-PF needs to overturn nine seats to reclaim its parliamentary majority.

Goromonzi West was one of only two constituencies where the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) requested a recount and, according to the commission, Zanu-PF actually picked up just one extra vote following the recount to be confirmed as the winning party.

In Zaka West, where the recount was initiated by Zanu-PF, the results of the election did not change, with all the contesting political parties saying they were satisfied with the recounting process.

"We are happy to retain the seat and we believe the same will happen in all the constituencies where recounting is taking place," Wilstaff Stemele, MDC Masvingo provincial chairman, said on Tuesday when the results were announced.

Denial?

Meanwhile, Zanu-PF has distanced itself from an article in a Zimbabwean state-owned newspaper calling for a power-sharing government.

The BBC's Peter Greste in South Africa says the paper is regarded as a mouthpiece for Zanu-PF, so articles like this can be important indicators of the way the party is thinking.

But Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga denied the article was sanctioned by the government of Zimbabwe.

"The politburo said there is not going to be a government of national unity as proposed by Morgan Tsvangirai. That was thrown out," he told the BBC.

"We are waiting for the official announcement of results to say, we're waiting for a re-run, that's a fact. MDC knows that, Zanu-PF knows that, that there is no clear winner. No-one has got 51%.

The MDC says its candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, won March's presidential vote outright and has also rejected the idea of a unity government.

ZIMBABWE'S NEIGHBOURS

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Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has been under fire over March's disputed elections. His neighbours have been supportive but regional differences are now emerging.

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South Africa's President Mbeki is the key Zimbabwe mediator. He has refused to criticise Robert Mugabe but the ruling ANC, and trade unions have urged him to take a stronger line.

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Zambian President Mwanawasa has taken the region's strongest line on Zimbabwe. His call for Africa not to let a ship carrying weapons to Zimbabwe dock will outrage President Mugabe.

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Angola's government has close ties to Zimbabwe's ruling party - both came to power after fighting colonial rule in the 1970s.

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Botswana is not seen as an ally of Robert Mugabe. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai fled here after polls.

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Namibia is a close ally of Zimbabwe - it too is planning to redistribute white-owned farms to black villagers.


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Mozambique has hosted some white farmers forced from Zimbabwe and is seen as relatively sympathetic to Zimbabwe's opposition.

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Tanzania's ruling party has a long history of close ties to Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and is unlikely to criticise him.

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DR Congo's President Joseph Kabila is an ally of Robert Mugabe, who sent troops to help his father, Laurent Kabila, fight rebels.

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Malawi is seen as neutral. But some 3m people of Malawian origin are in Zimbabwe, mostly farmworkers who have lost their jobs and were sometimes assaulted during farm invasions.

1 of 9

Mr Tsvangirai's MDC says a violent campaign of intimidation by Zanu-PF supporters have left 10 dead and thousands displaced - but Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa denies anyone has been killed.

Meanwhile, the leader of the governing ANC in South Africa, Jacob Zuma, is refusing to blame Mr Mugabe for the violence.

Speaking to the BBC during a visit to London, Mr Zuma said the violence in Zimbabwe was unacceptable, but he was not prepared to judge individuals.

He also refused to criticise President Thabo Mbeki's "softly softly" approach as mediator.

"We are doing something more than anybody else in reality... other people are doing absolutely nothing."

In Mozambique, former president Joaquim Chissano says he has declined a request from Mr Tsvangirai to mediate in Zimbabwe's political crisis.

Mr Chissano was speaking in Maputo after meeting Mr Tsvangirai, who has called for Mr Mbeki to step aside as mediator.

Mystery ship

Prime Minister Brown's call for an international arms embargo on Zimbabwe comes after a Chinese ship tried to dock at several African ports to unload a cargo of arms destined for Zimbabwe.

The ship, the An Yue Jiang, has disappeared once again, but is thought to be heading up the west coast of Africa from the Cape of Good Hope.

Ballot boxes guarded by police in the Domboshava training centre, Zimbabwe
Recounts are being conducted in 23 constituencies

It has been refused permission to dock in South Africa and Mozambique, and Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa has urged other African leaders not to allow it to enter their territorial waters.

The Lloyds Marine Intelligence Unit (MIU) in London, which plots the location of ships around the world, says it is no longer possible to accurately establish exactly where the vessel is because readings are no longer being taken from its AIS (Automatic Identification System).

The AIS is a location beacon which every ship carries, with a range of 40-50 nautical miles. It is possible that the An Yue Jiang is more than 50 nautical miles from the coast and is therefore not being picked up, or that the AIS has been switched off.

The Lloyds MIU says that plotting points taken of the Chinese ship on Tuesday show that it was steaming north-west up the African coast at a speed of about 250 nautical miles a day.

The US is reported to be pressuring port authorities in Angola and Namibia - staunch allies of Zimbabwe's leader - not to allow the ship to dock. China has said the ship may have to return home without delivering its load.




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