( dpa ) - The United States Monday urged Zimbabwean election officials to speed up the release of the country's much- awaited election results.
"We are concerned by the slow pace of the official tabulation," said Tom Casey, deputy spokesman for the US State Department. "The opportunities for mischief increase the longer the delay is between the elections and the announcement of the vote."
The country held combined presidential, parliamentary and local elections on Saturday.
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which has claimed victory, earlier Monday expressed alarm at the slow pace of counting as results trickled in showing President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and the MDC neck and neck.
Casey called on the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission to "count every vote, to count every vote honestly, and to make sure that the results that they release reflect the actual preferences and the actual will of the Zimbabwean people."
Casey noted concerns of the US prior to the election, including the "excessive" printing of ballots and the "excessive" number of mail-in ballots intended for police and military officials.
Mugabe, 84, is trying to hang on after 28 years of ruling the country, amidst disastrous economic policies which have pushed the country to the brink of ruin and provoked inflation of more than 100,000 per cent.
Casey noted the generally peaceful atmosphere during voting, but withheld any assessment about the outcome of the elections until the votes are counted.