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Zimbabwe Opposition Still Undecided on Runoff Vote

Zimbabwe's main opposition party is still undecided about whether party leader Morgan Tsvangirai will participate in a presidential runoff vote.

The vice president of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Ms. Thokozani Khupe, told reporters in Harare Saturday that the party feels a runoff is not necessary because it believes Mr. Tsvangirai won the election outright with a majority of the original vote on March 29. However, the MDC official says, the party has not ruled out the possibility that it will contest a runoff.

The opposition has rejected an official tally that claims Mr. Tsvangirai defeated President Robert Mugabe last month, but fell short of the majority needed to avoid a second-round vote. The government's vote count, issued more than a month late, has been viewed with skepticism both in Zimbabwe and abroad.

If Mr. Tsvangirai does not take part in the runoff, it is expected that Mr. Mugabe would be declared the winner, extending his 28-year rule over Zimbabwe.

An aide to Mr. Mugabe says the president will take part in the runoff.

The March 29 presidential and parliamentary elections were the biggest challenge Mr. 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 ruling party said Friday it will begin a legal challenge to 52 parliamentary seats won by the opposition. Election officials had earlier ordered a recount of 23 constituencies won by the opposition.

Zimbabwe's government has come under intense international criticism for holding up results of the presidential poll. Mr. Mugabe's critics say the results were delayed so he could alter them, orchestrate a runoff and hold onto power.

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