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Mugabe grip loosening.

ROBERT Mugabe's iron grip on Zimbabwe was finally loosening today after nearly three decades.

Amid fevered reports of face saving deals, speculation was growing that the autocratic president was on the verge of stepping down.

Virtually all observers are agreed that Mugabe lost the first round of voting on Saturday to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

The 84-year-old's Zanu-PF party have also refrained from claiming victory in the crucial poll.

However, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has yet to release the full results, despite growing demands for clarity from countries including Britain and the US.

In his first public appearance since the election, Mr Tsvangiri insisted last night his party had won, but denied any formal negotiations were taking place with Mugabe.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, a group of civil society organisations, said its random sample of polling stations indicated Mr Tsvangirai had won just over 49 per cent of the vote and Mugabe 42 per cent.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Apr 2, 2008
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