Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has accused President Robert Mugabe of mounting a "de facto military coup" in the wake of elections whose results have not been fully disclosed, citing the deployment of troop into rural areas ahead of a presidential runoff election the ruling party appears determined to stage.
Tsvangirai, whose branch of the Movement for Democratic Change says he won the presidential ballot with at least 50.3% of the vote, was in South Africa Thursday for the second time in several days pursuing a regional diplomatic offensive in the crisis.
Sources said Tsvangirai was set to meet late Thursday with President Thabo Mbeki, but it was unclear whether that meeting came about. Mr. Mbeki was said to be on his way to Mozambique on Friday to meet with President Armando Guebuza ahead of a summit Saturday of the Southern African Development Community.
Harare has confirmed President Mugabe will attend the summit. Tsvangirai said he expects to be in Lusaka, Zambia, to present his side of the situation.
Earlier, Tsvangirai expanded on his comments to Time magazine saying that President Mugabe had mounted a "de facto coup" following the March 29 elections.
"You have for instance generals in charge of provinces, and various levels of officers responsible for constituencies, and an execution plan which is intimidating, harassing and beating up of people taking place," Tsvangirai said in an interview with VOA. "That cannot be a normal civilian operation. This is a military operation.
Meanwhile, international pressure continues to mount on the government.
Reports said U.S. President George Bush in a telephone conversation with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete repeated American calls for the ballot results to be issued by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission as as possible, saying they reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people. Kikwete is the current chairman of the African Union.
The Catholic church in Southern Africa has called for the appointment of a mediator such as former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to resolve the crisis. But Zimbabwean Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said there was no need for such international intervention in the country's post-election crisis.
South African Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad said Pretoria will work with other countries in the region to ensure the will of the Zimbabwean people is reflected in the election follow-up. Pahad said ZEC must quickly release the results.
Senior Researcher Chris Maroleng of South Africa's Institute for Security Studies said from Pretoria that Harare's claim the situation is normal is manifestly false, adding that the danger is increasing that popular frustration will boil over into violence.