Rival Resists Zimbabwe Runoff, Saying He Won

(nytimes) - The Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Saturday denied the need for a runoff election, insisting that he had won the presidential election outright. He also warned that the ruling party was readying a campaign of violence against his supporters to hang onto power.

Mr. Tsvangirai promised safety to President Robert Mugabe, 84, if he stepped aside. But his call for Mr. Mugabe to enter talks aimed at a peaceful, democratic transition seemed unlikely to find a warm reception from ZANU-PF, the ruling party. On Friday it proclaimed that Mr. Mugabe would participate in a runoff if neither he nor Mr. Tsvangirai, 56, won a majority.

The opposition and the ruling party are jockeying for political position as the country and the world wait with consternation for Zimbabwean election officials to finally announce the outcome of a presidential election held last Saturday, a race that was, according to all provisional tallies, extraordinarily close.

Lawyers for Mr. Tsvangirai's party, Movement for Democratic Change, tried Saturday to force the Electoral Commission to release the official tally through a petition to the High Court. A hearing is expected Sunday.

When the lawyers approached the court in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, on Saturday morning, to file the lawsuit, armed police officers briefly blocked them from entering, Reuters reported.

"We can't go in," an opposition lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, told journalists. "They are threatening to shoot. They say no one enters the court."

A growing chorus that includes Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain and Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary general, has appealed for a speedy release of the vote count, but on Saturday, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, perhaps the most important international player in Zimbabwe's electoral drama, counseled patience after meeting Mr. Brown in London, news agencies reported.

"I think there is time to wait," said Mr. Mbeki, who was appointed by a regional bloc of nations to mediate in Zimbabwe but has been accused by Mr. Tsvangirai of favoring Mr. Mugabe. "Let's see the outcome of the election results."

The ruling party, which has led the country into a ruinous economic decline, lost its majority in the lower house of Parliament in last week's election for the first time since the country's independence from white rule in 1980, but is now demanding a recount for 16 seats in an apparent bid to reclaim control.

Mr. Tsvangirai, who was brutally beaten by the police in a crackdown on the opposition last year, warned at a news conference in Harare on Saturday that the ruling party would resort to violent intimidation of his supporters during a runoff. He expressed reservations about participating in a runoff, though he stopped short of threatening a boycott.

He said the ruling party was mobilizing youth militias and veterans of the country's independence struggle to carry out a campaign he described as a war against the people.

The ruling party, which confiscated large, commercial farms of white farmers, helping precipitate the economy's collapse, is stoking fears that an opposition government would take land given to blacks and return it to whites. Much of the land was given to Mr. Mugabe's cronies, Zimbabwe analysts say.

The state-run newspaper, The Herald, reported Saturday that white farmers were returning "in droves," threatening to reclaim their land, a charge Roy Bennett, the opposition party's treasurer, dismissed as "absolute nonsense."

In the 2002 presidential election, which some Western observers charged was stolen from Mr. Tsvangirai, there were extensive allegations of vote rigging and violence by the ruling party. And human rights and civic groups fear a runoff could feature a replay of those tactics by a corrupt elite desperate to keep power and the material wealth it has brought them.

There are signs the ruling party is tightening its grip on the country. The police blocked the main roads leading into Harare's center on Saturday, and were stopping and searching vehicles, a chilling development for foreign journalists who are covering the election without accreditation.

On Thursday, the police arrested Barry Bearak, a correspondent in the Johannesburg bureau of The New York Times, on charges related to covering the election without official permission from the government. He was still being held in a Harare jail on Saturday.

Mr. Tsvangirai's party ran large advertisements in major South African newspapers on Saturday calling on Zimbabwe's neighbors and other countries to support its efforts to unseat Mr. Mugabe.

"At this stage, we offer the hand of peace to the current regime, and will recognize and respect their rights, if the transition is expedited without further ado, but this offer will not remain open indefinitely," the advertisement said.

N.Macedonia, Azerbaijan are negotiating on trade agreement
N.Macedonia, Azerbaijan are negotiating on trade agreement
Decrease in bank lending observed in Baku and Azerbaijani districts
Decrease in bank lending observed in Baku and Azerbaijani districts
Appeals to consulting organizations in Azerbaijan growing dynamically - Azecoconsulting
Appeals to consulting organizations in Azerbaijan growing dynamically - Azecoconsulting
Loading Bars
N.Macedonia, Azerbaijan are negotiating on trade agreement
Oil prices hit 13-month highs on tighter supplies, Fed assurance on low rates
Iran and US negotiate only within JCPOA framework
Australian media reforms pass parliament after last-ditch changes
Decrease in bank lending observed in Baku and Azerbaijani districts
Appeals to consulting organizations in Azerbaijan growing dynamically - Azecoconsulting
Azerbaijan Industrial Corporation aiming to restructure portfolio
China becomes Uzbekistan’s main foreign trade partner
Azerbaijan's Central Bank publishes latest data on population's bank deposits
Azerbaijan discloses share of household loans in total lending
Azerbaijani State Migration Service opens tender to buy air transport services
Kazakhstan to reduce VAT for new manufacturing companies
New Turkish ambassadors to Washington, Tokyo officially appointed
Municipal transport to operate on weekends in Georgia
Tariffs on Eurasia trades to go zero: Iranian Official
Number of COVID-19 cases in Kazakhstan surpasses 210,000
Biden to press for $37 billion to boost chip manufacturing amid shortfall
Participation of Azerbaijani SMEs in public procurement to be encouraged
U.S. report on Khashoggi death expected to single out Saudi crown prince
Egypt plans to order 10 mln Sputnik V doses from Russia
Kazakhstan, Poland trade decreases amid COVID-19
Germany grants special approval for first COVID-19 self-test kits
Ford CEO calls on U.S. government to support EV batteries, charging
Swiss logistics giant to partner with Chinese company in vaccine storage and distribution
Japan's cabinet green-lights bill to ratify RCEP trade deal
Kazakhstan increases imports of Sweden-made goods
Kazakh Karachaganak Petroleum Operating paying particular focus to "green" technologies
Kazakhstan's Kcell mobile telecom services provider to de-list its GDRs
Azerbaijan - leader among neighboring countries for index of sustainable development goals
Israel's hi-tech services exports up 19 pct in 2020
Conditions for Int’l cooperation changing - Rouhani
Kazakh airlines eye boosting jet fuel imports
Uzbekistan notes decrease in mining production
COVID-19 greatly affects cargo transportation by vehicles in Azerbaijan's transportation sector
Head of Georgian Governmental Administration quits
Turkey registers more than 9 500 new coronavirus cases
Johnson & Johnson's one-dose vaccine closes in on U.S. approval
Pashinyan shows anti-Russia stance, denigrates 'Iskander' missile fired on Azerbaijan
Azerbaijani FM, European commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement discuss situation in region
Azerbaijani FM meets Ukrainian deputy FM (PHOTO)
Visitors show great interest in Azerbaijani products at Gulfood 2021 exhibition (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan discloses amount of investments in economy of Turkic-speaking states
Assistant to Azerbaijani president meets with Ukrainian deputy minister for foreign affairs (PHOTO)
Japan eyes to support development of Georgian agrarian potential
Airlines expanding their activities in Georgia
Georgia reports three cases of UK coronavirus strain
Azerbaijan talks state-supported domestic SME market researches for 2020
Iran's Khatam Al-Anbia Headquarters to begin second phase of Chabahar port development project
Georgia to receive AstraZeneca Vaccine from South Korea and India
Turkmengas opens tender for purchase of technological equipment
Port of Baku records growth in annual turnover despite pandemic
Uzbekneftegaz to accelerate sale of gas stations serving farms
Azerbaijan sees growth of long-term loans to legal entities in real estate sector
Kazakhstan's Parliament approves amendments to bill on uranium mining
Iran's Shahid Tondgooyan Petrochemical Company fulfills its production plan
Georgian Hualing FIZ to begin serial production of furniture
Ukraine International Airlines receives permission to operate flights to Baku
New free economic zone established in Uzbekistan’s Karakalpakstan
Precious metal prices down in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijani industrial sector's lending notably grows
Turkmenistan's Project CA Desert Initiative opens tender for purchase of motorcycles
Inspectorate International Ltd. wins tender launched by Azerbaijani mining company
Turkish, Azerbaijani, and Turkmen FMs adopt joint statement following trilateral meeting (PHOTO)
Programs of Azerbaijani Communications Ministry to raise local startups to world standards
Uzbekistan to sale jewelry via e-commerce
Azerbaijan's Jan. 2021 import of goods increases
Azerbaijan sees multifold growth in bank mortgage lending
Georgia eases some COVID-19 restrictions
Marketed gas production resources set to change by 2050
Azerbaijan discloses volume of goods exported in Jan. 2021
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for February 24
JCPOA signatories require to take big steps towards commitments - Iranian MP
Iran to jointly produce COVID-19 vaccine with Russia by March
Azerbaijan talks use of 'smart' services in liberated lands
Most of lending in communications and transport sector accounts for foreign currency in Azerbaijan
Kazakhstan's banking sector faces pressure from global economic slowdown
Iran declares volume of exports-imports via Shahid Bahonar port revealed
Denmark to ease some COVID-19 restrictions from March 1
Georgia simplifies entry rules for citizens of Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus and Ukraine
Kazakhstan Railways opens tender to rent lifting equipment
Iran to export five pharmaceutical products
Kazakhstan's Karachaganak Gas Debottlenecking Project progresses despite COVID-19
Turkmenistan prepares to harvest licorice root
Karachaganak Petroleum Operating reports historical maximum liquid production
Iran to begin its human trial phase of Razi Cov-Pars vaccine
Central Bank of Iran allocates funds to buy Indian COVID-19 vaccine
German economy to shrink some 1.5% in early 2021
Iranian social media influencers to pay tax
Azerbaijan reports 145 more COVID-19 recoveries
South Korea grounds all local airlines' Boeing 777s with PW4000 engines
Azerbaijan's Innovation Agency becomes first full-fledged member of IASP in region
Huawei's solutions to help communication operators to simplify 5G network deployment
Azerbaijan reveals Jan. 2021 crude oil exports to Croatia
War crimes of chief of Armenia's General Staff - new facts revealed
Azerbaijan releases footage on airstrikes of Su-25 attack on Armenian Armed Forces during Karabakh war (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Production of machinery and equipment up in Azerbaijan
India, Bangladesh to heighten diplomatic engagements in run-up to PM Modi’s visit to Dhaka
Azerbaijan to become Eurasia’s third largest gas producer – GECF
Plan for restoration of small mines in Iran overfulfilled
Kazakh power networks maintenance company to buy containers via tender
All news