Zimbabwe court defers ruling on results; more land grabs

(dpa) - Zimbabweans will have to wait at least another day for the results of presidential elections held nine days ago after a court on Monday deferred judgement in an urgent application by the opposition seeking their release.

The High Court in Harare ruled Monday that it did have the authority to hear the Movement for Democratic Change's (MDC) application for a court order forcing the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to release the results.

But it deferred until Tuesday a ruling on whether the application was urgent or not.

President Robert Mugabe is fighting for his political survival in the election pitting him against MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai has claimed outright victory, saying he took 50.3 per cent of the vote but Mugabe is already campaigning for a widely-predicted second round, which the law calls for if neither candidate takes more than 50 per cent.

Addressing a funeral at the weekend Mugabe told Zimbabweans to safeguard their land from "former colonizers."

On Monday, farmers in Zimbabwe reported that several more white farmers had been chased off their land in the Centenary area of Mashonaland Central province. It was not possible to get immediate confirmation of the reports.

War veterans loyal to Mugabe at the weekend vowed last week to defend Zimbabwe's "sovereignty" and began a new wave of farm invasions reminiscent of a violent 2000 campaign, taking over a number of white-owned farms in Masvingo, south of Harare.

Tsvangirai claims Mugabe is preparing to wage "war" against his people to cling onto power.

In an opinion article in Britain's Guardian newspaper Monday, Tsvangirai urged the International Monetary Fund to withhold 1 billion pounds (2 billion dollars) in funds for Zimbabwe's reconstruction until Mugabe conceded defeat and called for South Africa, the US and Britain to intervene.

The MDC leader was in South Africa Monday for meetings but it was not clear with whom.

South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki has described the situation in Zimbabwe as "manageable" and told world leaders meeting at a banquet in London Sunday that Africa was ready to take charge of its own destiny.

Although the official presidential results have yet to be released Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has already demanded a recount, claiming counting errors in four constituencies.

The MDC has rubbished as "illegal" Zanu-PF's complaint, saying a recount must be done within 48 hours of the results being counted.

Zanu-PF has also announced it will challenge the MDC's victory in the 210-seat House of Assembly (lower house of parliament), in which the MDC defeated Zanu-PF 109 seats to 97, on the basis that the MDC "bribed voters" in 16 constituencies.

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