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Opposition MDC Will Challenge Zimbabwean Vote Recount

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change says it will challenge a decision by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to do a complete ballot recount in 23 constituencies. And as VOA's Delia Robertson reports from our southern Africa bureau in Johannesburg, a southern African leader meeting in Lusaka called for the release of the result in the presidential poll.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai did not get what he hoped for in Lusaka - a public admonishment of President Robert Mugabe by southern African leaders. Instead, the leaders left Lusaka and left it to Tomaz Salomao, Executive Secretary of the Southern Africa Development Community, to read a statement calling for the release of the tally in the presidential poll.

"The summit asks the electoral authorities in Zimbabwe that verification and release of results are expeditiously done in accordance with due process of law," Salomao said. "Summit also urge all parties in the electoral process in Zimbabwe to accept the results when they are announced."

But MDC secretary general Tendai Biti says his leader won the election, and that his party will not accept an result they believe not to be true, even though independent observers suggest that Tsvangirai may have won just under the 50 percent plus one vote needed to avoid a runoff.

"We won this election without the need of a runoff, and that position has not changed," Biti said. "What SADC seemed to try to be seducing us, is to say well if there are guarantees of the rule of law, and there are conditions, and the result indicates a runoff, then everyone should participate."

As the leaders gathered in Lusaka, the Zimbabwe Eelectoral Commission announced it will recount votes in 23 constituencies for all four elections, that is for president, for parliament, for the senate and for local government.

The MDC says it will seek a court injunction to prevent the recount scheduled for Saturday. The MDC accuses the ruling ZANUF-PF party of using the time between the election and now to stuff ballot boxes with votes for President Robert Mugabe and remove ballots in favor of Tsvangirai.

The opposition party also says that 84-year-old Zimbabwean leader has delayed the result to give his party time to intimidate the population, especially in rural areas, with a campaign of violence. Some attacks have been documented by international human-rights groups.

All of these allegation have been rejected by the government, the ruling party and the commission.

Meanwhile, the High Court in Harare is expected to rule Monday on an application by the MDC to compel the commission to immediately release the tally in the presidential poll.