(dpa) - Police fanned out across Zimbabwe's capital Harare Tuesday ahead of a general strike called by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to press for the release of last month's presidential election results.
But there were early indications that many in Harare had ignored the MDC's call as commuter buses were seen ferrying people to work and some markets had already opened.
The MDC called for an indefinite nationwide stayaway after the High Court in Harare threw out its application for a court order forcing the state-controlled Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to urgently release the results.
But past strikes and stayaways have been largely ineffective given that an estimated four out of five Zimbabweans are unemployed and those with work are under pressure to feed their families.
The ZEC's failure to announce the outcome 17 days after the vote has caused consternation in Zimbabwe and abroad.
The results were posted outside polling stations around the country the day after voting.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai claims to have defeated longtime President Robert Mugabe in the election but Mugabe's party claims neither Mugabe nor Tsvangirai won outright, and that a runoff will be needed to decide the winner.
The MDC accuses Mugabe of withholding the results to manipulate the outcome and of handing over the running of the country to the military.
Amnesty International last week said it had received reports of soldiers leading attacks on opposition supporters.
"There is a de facto state of emergency," MDC secretary general Tendai Biti told South African radio Tuesday. "We expect to see massive violence to take place."
On Sunday, an emergency meeting of Zimbabwe's neighbours in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) ended with a call for the ZEC to release the results "expeditiously."