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Zimbabwe Vote Verification Set to Resume

The process of verifying results from Zimbabwe's presidential election resumes Friday.

Zimbabwe's electoral commission met with representatives of President Robert Mugabe and his main challenger, Morgan Tsvangirai, in Harare Thursday to check the official vote tallies against those compiled by the candidates' parties.

Election officials informed the candidates that Mr. Tsvangirai is beating the president 47 to 43 percent in the March 29 vote - short of the majority needed to avoid a run-off.

But a spokesman for Mr. Tsvangirai's party, the Movement for Democratic Change, says they do not agree with the commission's figures. The MDC has claimed it captured just over 50 percent of the vote, and Mr. Tsvangirai has suggested he will not take part in a run-off.

If he withdraws, Mr. Mugabe would be declared the winner.

A U.S. State Department spokesman said the vote result will have limited credibility, because of what he called the "unconscionable" delay in releasing the tally.

The spokesman also accused Mr. Mugabe of ordering attacks against opposition supporters and said he must, in his words, "call off his dogs."

Human rights groups says the president's supporters are conducting a terror campaign meant to intimidate opponents ahead of the possible run-off.

The government has denied the allegation and accuses the MDC of conducting political attacks.

The March 29 presidential and parliamentary elections were the biggest challenge President Mugabe has faced since he took power in 1980, when Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain.

The MDC has already been declared the winner of the parliamentary race.

The MDC accuses the commission of delaying the presidential results in an effort to orchestrate a run-off and hand victory in that race to Mr. Mugabe.

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