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Zimbabwean Opposition Party Rejects Call For Presidential Runoff Ballot

The dominant branch of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change on Thursday rejected proposals by the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe for a presidential runoff election, saying its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, won the March 29 ballot. The party also condemned ZANU-PF moves for a parliamentary recount.

The national executive of Tsvangirai's MDC formation met in Harare and resolved that a presidential runoff would be unacceptable, maintaining that Tsvangirai took at least 50.3% of the votes in the first round and therefore is the president-elect. It also said parliamentary recounts are unacceptable due to alleged ZANU-PF tampering with ballots which have been under the government's indirect control since March 29.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has released results for the house and senate, showing the broad opposition including the rival MDC grouping of Arthur Mutambara with a house majority of several seats and a 30-30 tie with ZANU-PF in the senate (not including senate seats that the president appoints or are filled ex officio.)

ZANU-PF has sought recounts in 21 constituencies it lost to the opposition. Sources said recounts were already proceeding in five of those under what was described as duress by agents of the feared Central Intelligence Organization.

The MDC executive demanded the release of presidential election results by Monday. It also called for a halt to the harassment of opposition members and urged soldiers reportedly roaming and terrorizing rural areas be recalled to the barracks.

The opposition said its own polling agents were being forced to take part in recounts by agents of Central Intelligence Organization. MDC lawyer Alec Muchadehama told VOA that he had received a report from Mberengwa, Midlands, to that effect.

No comment on the allegations could be obtained from ZANU-PF Political Commissar Elliot Manyika, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, or from senior officials of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, a well-informed non-governmental group.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that the opposition is not satisfied with the outcome in some constituencies but would prefer to go through normal post-election procedures to challenge those results.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 from Zimbabwe...