(Reuters) - Zimbabwe sunk deeper into political stalemate on Sunday, with the opposition going to court to get election results released and President Robert Mugabe's ruling party asking for a delay and recount.
Tensions between the two sides have risen sharply since the elections last weekend, fueled by opposition suspicions Mugabe's ZANU-PF is preparing to rig the outcome of the hotly contested March 29 presidential poll.
The stakes were raised on Saturday when Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, declared victory over Mugabe in the presidential race and accused the veteran 84-year-old leader of "preparing a war on the people".
Mugabe's supporters struck back hours later when state media reported that ZANU-PF had asked election officials to defer release of the presidential poll results and conduct a recount and audit of all materials, including ballots, used in it.
The ruling party cited "revelations of errors and miscalculations" as the basis for its request, according to a report in the state-run Sunday Mail.
The High Court in Harare is scheduled on Sunday to hear Tsvangirai's application to have the results issued immediately, His MDC supporters say they will show the former union leader won an absolute majority of the votes.
Independent observers, however, say the MDC leader outpolled Mugabe but did not win enough votes to avoid a run-off.
Top ZANU-PF officials have endorsed Mugabe for the second ballot, putting to rest speculation that they might ask him to concede defeat.