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Zimbabwe Likely to Delay Run-Off Presidential Election


Zimbabwean officials say the run-off election between President Robert Mugabe and challenger Morgan Tsvangirai will not be held within two weeks, as required by law.

Electoral Commission Chief George Chiweshe says officials want to hold the election as early as possible. But he told the government-owned Sunday Mail newspaper that officials likely will extend the period in which the vote can be held.

Mr. Tsvangirai has announced he will return to Zimbabwe to participate in the runoff, which he says should be held by May 24. He says international observers and regional peacekeepers should be allowed to monitor the process.

Zimbabwe's Justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa rejected the conditions.

Mr. Tsvangirai has been outside Zimbabwe since his Movement for Democratic Change defeated Mr. Mugabe's ruling party in the March parliamentary elections.

Mr. Tsvangirai says he won an outright victory in the March presidential vote. Zimbabwe's electoral commission says he finished ahead of President Mugabe, but fell short of the majority needed to avoid a second round of voting.

Mr. Tsvangirai met Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos in Angola late Saturday to discuss the possibility of sending peacekeepers to Zimbabwe. Mr. dos Santos heads the security committee of the South African Development Community.

The MDC says Mugabe supporters are conducting a terror campaign against its activists. The president's ZANU-PF party denies the charges and accuses the MDC of carrying out its own attacks.

On Sunday, authorities arrested at least 56 MDC activists on charges of public violence in Shamva, north of the capital, Harare.