Pressure on AU to get tough with Mugabe as victory claim awaited

As Zimbabweans awaited Sunday a declaration of victory for President Robert Mugabe following elections in which he was the sole contestant, the African Union came under increased pressure to take a tough line with the belligerent leader, the dpa reported.

South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu called on the 53-state African body, whose leaders are scheduled to meet in Egypt on Monday, to refuse to recognize the outcome of Friday's controversial presidential run-off vote.

"If you were to have a unanimous voice saying quite clearly to Mr Mugabe you are unwelcome, you are illegitimate and we will not recognise your administration in any shape or form, I think that would be a very powerful signal and would strengthen the hand of the international community," Tutu said in a BBC interview.

Tutu also said a "very good argument" could be made for an international peacekeeping force in Zimbabwe.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who boycotted the June 27 run-off election over state- sponsored violence against his supporters, has called on the AU to send peacekeepers to Zimbabwe and to appoint a special envoy to the Zimbabwean crisis.

The Zimbabwe Election Commission is expected to announce Sunday that Mugabe has overturned his defeat in the first round of voting for president in March that Tsvangirai won but in which he fell short of an outright majority.

Tsvangirai's failure to deal a knockout blow to Mugabe in March led to Friday's run-off vote but the MDC leader withdrew over a spate of militia attacks on MDC supporters that has killed around 90 people.

The results of the election, which were posted outside polling stations Saturday, showed a large number of spoilt votes and, in some areas, votes for Tsvangirai, whose name remained on the ballot despite his withdrawal.

Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe for all of its 28 years of independence from Britain, is expected to be sworn in quickly before travelling to the AU heads of state meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

So far the AU has abstained from condemning Friday's vote.

US President George W Bush said Saturday his administration would be pushing for United Nations sanctions against Zimbabwe, including an arms embargo and a travel ban on certain officials.

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