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Mugabe must go.

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President Robert Mugabe's party has failed to win control of Zimbabwe's parliament in a partial recount of the March 29 election, results showed late last night, confirming the ruling party's first defeat in 28 years.

Results of a parallel presidential poll have not been released, but the parliamentary defeat increases pressure on Mugabe ahead of an expected run-off against Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said it did not know when the presidential results would be published. It hoped to compile the recount statistics by tomorrow.

Tsvangirai says he won outright and his party has rejected both the recount and any run-off as an attempt by Mugabe to steal the election.

For the first time since Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in 1980, the MDC wrested a parliamentary majority from Mugabe's ZANU-PF in the election four weeks ago, triggering a recount in 23 out of 210 constituencies.

The commission had ordered the recount after ZANU-PF accused election officials of taking bribes to undercount votes for Mugabe and his ruling party.

The ZEC said there were no changes in the 18 out of 23 seats recounted so far.

Delays in the recount and in announcing the presidential result have led to growing international criticism of Mugabe, 84, and stoked fears of vote-rigging and bloodshed in a country suffering an economic collapse.

On Friday, a desperate Mugabe resorted to strong measures to keep the opposition in check, in what Human Rights Watch said was a stepped up "campaign of organised terror and torture against opposition activists and ordinary Zimbabweans".

The government denies it is waging a campaign of violence. But armed riot police raided the MDC's headquarters and detained scores of people in the toughest measures against the opposition since the disputed elections.

The MDC said those detained included supporters who had sought refuge with them after fleeing various parts of the country "where the regime has been unleashing brutal violence".

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights said 62 people had come in for treatment over three days, some with broken limbs and one with an axe wound in the back of his head.

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Apr 27, 2008
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