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Reports: Aides Discussing Possible Mugabe Exit


Zimbabwe's main opposition party has retained a slight lead over the ruling ZANU-PF party in the official count from parliamentary elections Saturday.

The latest results show the opposition Movement for Democratic Change winning 67 seats in all, 62 for the main party and five for a breakaway faction. ZANU-PF trails slightly with 64 seats.

Zimbabwe's electoral commission has still not released any results from the presidential election held the same day, fueling fears of election rigging.

The MDC has said its leader and presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai is running well ahead of President Robert Mugabe in that contest.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, a coalition of local civil society groups that monitored the vote, says its own projection shows Mr. Tsvangirai winning but falling just short of the majority he needs to avoid a run-off.

The coalition projected Mr. Tsvangirai to take 49.4 percent of the vote, with Mr. Mugabe receiving 41.8 percent and independent candidate Simba Makoni getting 8.2 percent.

The United States and several European countries have expressed concern with the delay in election results, and has urged the election commission to publish them as quickly as possible.

The election commission chairman George Chiweshe has blamed the delay on the complexity of the vote - for president, for members of parliament and for local officials - and the need to verify results.

Mr. Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since it gained independence in 1980. Supporters hail him as a hero of the country's independence movement, but critics say his policies have ruined Zimbabwe's economy.

The country is struggling with 80 percent unemployment and an inflation rate of more than 100,000 percent.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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