Zimbabwe election commission says hands tied by court case

Other News Materials 11 April 2008 12:50 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has dodged calls for it to release results from presidential elections held nearly two weeks ago saying its hands are tied because the results are the subject of a court case, state media said Friday.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has petitioned the High Court in Harare for a court order forcing ZEC to release the results. The court is due to rule on the matter on Monday.

ZEC is expected to come under pressure to end the suspense surrounding the election outcome at an emergency meeting of southern African leaders in Zambia Saturday to discuss Zimbabwe.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai had claimed outright victory in the March 29 elections. President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, which has talked up a second round of voting, is demanding a recount, accusing ZEC of rigging in Tsvangirai's favour.

Spokesmen for Mugabe and Tsvangirai have separately confirmed the two will attend the Southern African Development Community (SADC) meeting.

South African President Thabo Mbeki, SADC's mediator in Zimbabwe, will also be present, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

In a sign of growing impatience in the region over Zimbabwe, a senior South African foreign affairs official, Aziz Pahad, on Thursday called on ZEC to explain the delay in releasing the results and expressed concern that Zanu-PF was already demanding a recount.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa Thursday said ZEC - several of whose officials have been arrested for alleged vote rigging - had accepted a recount in some constituencies.

Despite Zanu-PF's defeat in parliamentary elections and his party's admission that he probably did not win the presidential vote, Mugabe, 84, appears to be trying to cling onto power.

Over the past week dozens of white farmers and at least one black farmer have been chased off their land by youth militia loyal to his party after Mugabe called on Zimbabweans to defend their land from "former colonizers."