Vol No: 83,
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Blue watch

Zimbabwe which way?
ZIMBABWE'S ruling party expects a run-off election and is confident its leader, Robert Mugabe, the president, will retain power.

Delays in the announcement of election results had prompted rumours that Mugabe might step aside, but on Thursday his party declared itself ready for a new battle in the second round.

"From ZANU-PF's perspective, we are very confident that we've got the numbers, when it comes to a re-run, we're ready for that second round, and we are confident that President Robert Mugabe will win this time," Bright Matonga, the deputy information minister, said.

He said the party had "let the president down" in the first round and had not diverted enough energy into its campaign.

"In terms of strategy, we only applied 25 per cent of our energy into this campaign ... That [the run-off] is when we are going to unleash the other 75 per cent that we did not apply in the first case."

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has won the constituency-based parliamentary polls but no results have yet been released for the presidential vote.

The MDC says Morgan Tsvangirai, its leader, has won based on its own tallies. Matonga said: "We think, and it is my assumption ... there may not be a clear winner of the presidential one (vote) and it points to a rerun."

But Tendai Biti, the MDC secretary-general, said earlier that Tsvangirai had won 50.3 per cent against Mugabe's 43.8 per cent and urged Mugabe to concede defeat and avoid embarrassment.

Despite his party's proclamation of victory, Tsvangirai has refrained from declaring himself the president, a move seen as having helped prevent major unrest in Zimbabwe.

Earlier, Mugabe made his first public appearance since the March 29 elections, meeting Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, the former president of Sierra Leone who is heading an African Union election observer team, at his residence in Harare, state television reported.

Asked about his meeting with Mugabe, Kabbah said: "He looked very relaxed, and is of the view that the problems of the country will be resolved amicably, and he is very relaxed about it."

Rumours of Mugabe's next move continue to circulate.

The South African financial daily, Business Day, reported that Mugabe had admitted to family and advisers that he had lost and was weighing up whether to concede or contest a run-off against Tsvangirai.

The newspaper said some members of Mugabe's government wanted him to see the contest through but personal advisers and his family want Mugabe to quit.

If a run-off vote is declared, it will be contested on April 19.



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