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High Court Appeal for Election Results in Zimbabwe Postponed


Zimbabwe's opposition party says the nation's High Court has postponed a hearing to consider a petition demanding the immediate release of last week's presidential election results.

Lawyers for the Movement for Democratic Change said the hearing has been delayed until Sunday. Earlier Saturday, armed Zimbabwean police prevented opposition lawyers from entering the court.

The MDC is asking the High Court to force the electoral commission to issue the election results.

Independent observers say MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the most votes over incumbent Robert Mugabe in the March 29 election, but not enough to avoid a runoff. Mr. Tsvangirai says he won the election outright, with more than 50 percent of the ballots cast.

By law, run-off elections in Zimbabwe must be held within 21 days, but diplomats and opposition officials say Mr. Mugabe is planning to wait three months before allowing a new vote to proceed.

An MDC spokesman is pleading with the international community to intervene to prevent bloodshed in case a runoff is declared.

A silent march in the capital of Harare Friday by a group of war veterans supporting Mr. Mugabe has raised fears the ruling party will resort to force remain in power.

A day earlier, two foreign journalists were detained during a raid by security forces on a Harare hotel. One of the journalists is award-winning New York Times correspondent Barry Bearak. Bearak and the second journalist, a British national, remained in custody as of late Friday.

Official results of last week's elections gave the MDC control of the lower house of Parliament, but Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party says it is asking for a recount in 16 districts.

The 84-year-old president has ruled Zimbabwe since it gained independence from Britain in 1980. Supporters hail him as a hero of the independence movement, but critics say his policies have ruined Zimbabwe's economy. The nation suffers from chronic food shortages and hyperinflation - prices rising so rapidly that the annual inflation rate is more than 100,000 percent.

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

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