Long lines and significant delays are reported in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, on the first day of the closely-fought presidential election.

Witnesses say many names have been removed from voting lists in the capital, an opposition stronghold. The VOA correspondent in Harare also reports seeing gangs of ruling party militants trying to intimidate voters.

Meanwhile, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change says it has not been allowed to place election observers at several rural precincts.

Late Friday, police detained 12 farmers who were driving MDC election monitors to polling stations.

Longtime President Robert Mugabe faces a strong challenge from MDC candidate and former labor leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The MDC says it expects massive vote-rigging by the government, a charge denied by President Robert Mugabe and his aides.

In Washington, the Bush Administration says it does not expect a completely free and fair election and insists it is ready to take steps against Mr. Mugabe's government if its fears are confirmed.

Voting continues on Sunday, but it may be several days before results are announced.