President Robert Mugabe and first lady Grace during the run up to the March 29, 2008 national elections in Zimbabwe.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
16:13 MECCA TIME, 13:13 GMT
President Mugabe 'ready for poll run-off'
Zimbabwe's ruling party expects a run-off election and is confident its leader, Robert Mugabe, the president, will retain power.
Delays in the announcement of election results had prompted rumours that Mugabe might step aside, but on Thursday his party declared itself ready for a new battle in the second round.
"From ZANU-PF's perspective, we are very confident that we've got the numbers, when it comes to a re-run, we're ready for that second round, and we are confident that President Robert Mugabe will win this time," Bright Matonga, the deputy information minister, said.
He said the party had "let the president down" in the first round and had not diverted enough energy into its campaign.
"In terms of strategy, we only applied 25 per cent of our energy into this campaign ... That [the run-off] is when we are going to unleash the other 75 per cent that we did not apply in the first case."
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has won the constituency-based parliamentary polls but no results have yet been released for the presidential vote.
The MDC says Morgan Tsvangirai, its leader, has won based on its own tallies.
Matonga said: "We think, and it is my assumption ... there may not be a clear winner of the presidential one [vote] and it points to a re-run."
But Tendai Biti, the MDC secretary-general, said earlier that Tsvangirai had won 50.3 per cent against Mugabe's 43.8 per cent and urged Mugabe to concede defeat and avoid embarrassment.
Despite his party's proclamation of victory, Tsvangirai has refrained from declaring himself the president, a move seen as having helped prevent major unrest in Zimbabwe.
Police were manning a number of roadblocks for routine checks in the capital on Thursday but there was no other sign of an overt security presence.
The ZANU-PF's politburo is to meet on Friday to discuss the elections, a party spokesman said.
"All I can confirm is there is a politburo meeting. That's enough, that's all I can say at the moment," Didymus Mutasa, ZANU-PF secretary for administration, said.
Earlier, Mugabe made his first public appearance since the March 29 elections, meeting Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, the former president of Sierra Leone who is heading an African Union election observer team, at his residence in Harare, state television reported.
Asked about his meeting with Mugabe, Kabbah said: "He looked very relaxed, and is of the view that the problems of the country will be resolved amicably, and he is very relaxed about it."
Rumours of Mugabe's next move continue to circulate.
The South African financial daily, Business Day, reported that Mugabe had admitted to family and advisers that he had lost and was weighing up whether to concede or contest a run-off against Tsvangirai.
The newspaper said some members of Mugabe's government wanted him to see the contest through but personal advisers and his family want Mugabe to quit.
If a run-off vote is declared, it will be contested on April 19.
President Mugabe 'prepared to face run-off'
Mr Mugabe was said to be ready to fight 'to the last'
Mugabe appears on state TV
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is ready to contest a second round of the presidential election, a spokesman for his ruling Zanu-PF party says.
Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga said if results from Saturday's election showed a second round was necessary, Mr Mugabe would stand.
Official results from the presidential poll have yet to be issued, but the opposition says it won the vote.
Mr Mugabe has been seen in his first TV appearance since the poll.
State TV carried footage of him meeting former Sierra Leone President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah.
Mr Tejan Kabbah also had talks with opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, AFP reports, prompting further speculation that some form of African mediation effort is under way.
There are reports that senior members of the MDC leadership in Zimbabwe have gone into hiding after their offices in a Harare hotel were ransacked, BBC sources say.
A nearby lodge housing foreign journalists has also been raided by paramilitary police, a journalist who fled the hotel told the BBC by telephone.
'Not giving up'
On the issue of a run-off, Zanu-PF's Mr Matonga told the BBC: "If there is no clear winner, the laws stress that you have to go for a run-off."
Under election rules, a candidate needs to win at least 50% of the vote to avoid a second round.
"President Mugabe is going to fight to the last, and he's not giving up, he's not going anywhere, he hasn't lost the election," said Mr Matonga.
Zanu-PF was leading in the popular vote and if translated into a presidential vote, that would mean victory for Mr Mugabe, he said.
Zanu-PF's leadership is holding a meeting on Friday to discuss strategy. Local reporters say the party is split on whether Mr Mugabe should fight on.
Party sources are reported as saying the meeting will be chaired by Mr Mugabe and the election will be at the centre of discussions.
A BBC correspondent in Zimbabwe said there was a general sense of the nation being in limbo.
Fewer riot police are on the streets than on Wednesday, our correspondent says, but although some people have held parties this week to celebrate what they see as a likely MDC win, no-one was feeling quite so confident on Thursday.
A leading Zanu-PF figure told our correspondent that members of the party's top decision-making body, the politburo, were getting distinctly nervous: "If you were them, you wouldn't want to put all your eggs in one basket," our correspondent was told.
The opposition received a boost from the publication of official results from the parliamentary election on Wednesday.
Figures from the Zimbabwe Election Commission gave the MDC a majority of seats, displacing Zanu-PF.
Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC took 99 seats, while Mr Mugabe's party polled 97. A smaller MDC faction which backed former Zanu-PF minister Simba Makoni in the presidential polls won 10 seats leaving them with a potentially influential future role.
But in terms of the popular vote, the figures gave Mr Mugabe's party the lead - 45.9% to 42.8% for the MDC.
With presidential election results still awaited, the MDC said on Wednesday that its leader had won, though Zanu-PF denied this.
The MDC released its own results to back up its claim, saying Mr Tsvangirai had won 50.3% of the vote to Mr Mugabe's 43.8%, so avoiding a second round of voting.
But those figures differ slightly with the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, a coalition of civil society organisations, who said Mr Tsvangirai had won 49% to Mr Mugabe's 42% - which if true would necessitate a run-off.
The electoral commission said on Thursday that official results for the 60-seat upper house, the Senate, had been delayed because of "logistical problems".
Mr Mugabe, 84, came to power 28 years ago at independence on a wave of optimism.
But in recent years Zimbabwe has been plagued by the world's highest inflation, as well as acute food and fuel shortages.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/04/03 19:06:34 GMT