(dpa) - A lawyer for Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was barred by police from entering the High Court in Harare Saturday to apply for a court order to force the release of eagerly-awaited presidential election results.
The MDC's lawyer Alec Muchadehama was about to enter the court with an application for an injunction to force the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to end a week-long wait for the results when he and a group of MDC supporters were ordered by police to disperse.
The police, whose senior officer was dressed in civilian clothes with a T-shirt and a cap of President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, threatened to call riot police to "deal with them" if the group did not leave the area.
A week after they voted in combined presidential, parliamentary and local elections, Zimbabweans are still waiting to know whether, as seems likely, Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai will square off in a second round of voting for president.
An independent estimate and Mugabe's party have predicted neither of the two leading candidates will take more than the 50 per cent plus one ballot needed for an outright victory.
The results of the election, in which Mugabe is seeking to extend his 28-year rule by another five, had been expected Friday, within six days of the vote as legally mandated.
ZEC has defended the delay saying, according to the Saturday Star newspaper in South Africa, that the six days means six working days.
The MDC on Saturday called for the support of the international community, fearing a violent government crackdown.
The country was very tense. "Everything can happen," the MDC's Eliphas Mukondweshuro.
There were indications that the security forces under Mugabe's command wanted to provoke an armed conflict, as had happened in the past.
"For Mugabe, a run-off is a strategy for retribution. He was beaten at the referendum in 2000 and we all know the violence which followed," said another MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa.
"This is what we want to avoid, rather than have the international community intervene after there has been bloodshed," Chamisa added.
The world had to continue to exert pressure on Zimbabwe's government, also via the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Mukondweshuro said.
Zanu-PF raised doubt about the MDC's success in the parliamentary polls. The opposition won 16 constituencies only by issuing bribes, Mugabe's party said.
Should the election commission follow this line of argument, the Zanu-PF could reclaim a parliamentary majority.
According to the commission, opposition parties won 109 of the 210 parliamentary seats, with 99 won by the MDC against Zanu-PF's 97.
Mugabe wants to compete against Tsvangirai in a run-off.