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Mugabe totters on the brink of defeat.

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

Amid reports of face-saving deals, speculation was growing that the president was on the verge of stepping down as virtually all observers agreed Mugabe lost the first round of voting to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

However, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has yet to release the full results.

Mr Tsvangirai insisted last night his party had won, but denied any formal negotiations were taking place with Mugabe.

"There is no way the MDC will enter in any deal before ZEC has actually announced the result.

"So any speculation about deals, about negotiations, about reaching out is not there," he added.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, said its sample of polling stations indicated Mr Tsvangirai had won just over 49% of the vote and Mugabe 42%.

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RIVALS: Morgan Tsvangirai, left, and Robert Mugabe, right
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Apr 2, 2008
Words:149
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