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Zimbabwe High Court Announces First Ruling Relating to Presidential Election

Lawyers say Zimbabwe's High Court will wait until Tuesday to rule on an opposition effort to force the release of presidential election results.

Speaking to reporters Monday, opposition lawyer Alec Muchadehama said the court ruled it has jurisdiction to decide the case, but has delayed ruling on the case itself for another day.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change is demanding that Zimbabwe's electoral commission release the results of the presidential election held nine days ago.

The MDC says its candidate Morgan Tsvangirai defeated President Robert Mugabe, although independent monitors say he fell short of the majority needed to avoid a runoff.

In comments published in today's edition of Britain's "Guardian" newspaper, Mr. Tsvangirai urged the International Monetary Fund to withhold one billion dollars in aid to Zimbabwe until Mr. Mugabe steps down.

Mr. Tsvangirai also says tension is very high in the country, and that South Africa, Britain and the U.S. should raise the pressure on Mr. Mugabe to accept defeat and end his 28-year rule.

MDC officials say Mr. Tsvangirai is in South Africa Monday for what they call "private talks" with what they described as a number of "important people." The officials did not offer further details.

Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party has called on the electoral commission to conduct a recount of the March 29th presidential vote and hold off on releasing the results.

The delay has raised concerns that the government is trying to rig the vote. The opposition says it is ridiculous to ask for a recount when no results have been released.

In another development, Zimbabwe's state-controlled newspaper said that President Mugabe has urged Zimbabweans to defend land seized from white farmers. This has increased fears Mr. Mugabe could order a violent crackdown to retain power.