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Tsvangirai: U.N. must act on Zimbabwe

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  • NEW: Zimbabwe's opposition seeks international intervention in election crisis
  • NEW: Leader Morgan Tsvangirai wants United Nations to set up criminal court
  • Zimbabwe still waiting for release of results from March 29 presidential vote
  • Tsvangirai accused of treason by government, linked with British overthrow plot
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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (CNN) -- Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has called for the United Nations to set up a criminal court to prosecute those guilty of violence in the aftermath of the stalled election in his troubled country.

The southern African nation is still awaiting the release of the results from the March 29 presidential vote, and President Robert Mugabe's ruling party may win back power in parliament after the electoral commission ordered a recount to take place Saturday.

The government has cracked down on protesters, raising fears of similar bloodshed to that which followed Kenya's recent post-election riots if no resolution is found.

Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change has claimed victory but has accused 84-year-old Mugabe of holding back the results so he can retain his near three-decade grip on power.

The MDC has been frustrated in its legal bids to have the results made public, with the High Court judges legal to Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party. Video Watch Tsvangirai talk about those who don't think there is a crisis »

"We believe time has now come for the U.N. to set up an international criminal court," Tsvangirai said Thursday in South Africa, where he has been seeking support.

"Especially for those that are currently committing acts of brutality against the people.

"To me, that is a very focused attention. We cannot watch Zimbabweans being brutalized by their own government. Brutalized, raped, their homes burned because they just decided to vote otherwise."

Tsvangirai also leveled criticism at South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has been asked to help negotiate a resolution in the election.

Mbeki has sided with Mugabe on the election issue, saying it was not a crisis.

Tsvangirai said that the problems in Zimbabwe began long before the recent election and that Mbeki had been part of the mediation discussion for close to a decade.

"Well, it is nine years since the emergence of this Zimbabwean crisis. In any measure of success, I think nine years is too far, too long without a resolution in sight," Tsvangirai said.

"So I think that those who are making this criticism of the role played by President Mbeki, I think, are justified."

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on Zimbabwe's neighbors to "step up" to help the southern African country resolve its ongoing political crisis.

"Frankly, the United States and the European Union and others have spoken out about this, and we've made calls, it's time for Africa to step up," Rice said Thursday.

"Where is the concern from the African Union and from Zimbabwe's neighbors about what is going on in Zimbabwe?"

Earlier Thursday, Tsvangirai was accused of treason in Zimbabwe's state-run national newspaper, which quoted alleged correspondence with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Mugabe rose to power after ousting the British-backed, white-ruled regime led by Ian Smith.

The Associated Press said The Herald printed excerpts from the April 9 letter in which Brown pledged to "make sure that a solution to the ongoing crisis in Zimbabwe is reached and your electoral success is respected."

It quoted outgoing Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa as saying, "Tsvangirai along with Brown are seeking an illegal regime change in Zimbabwe, and on the part of Tsvangirai, this is treasonous."

Chinamasa lost his seat in the elections in which Zanu-PF lost control of Parliament for the first time, AP reported.

The MDC has called the letter a forgery, and Tsvangirai told AP that the allegations were "outrageous."

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The British Embassy in Zimbabwe released a statement Thursday also labeling the letter as a fake.

"No such letter, or wider correspondence, exists. It reflects this regime's desperation that Zanu-PF and state-controlled media have resorted to faking documents for crude propaganda purposes," it said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Nkepile Mabuse contributed to this report

All About ZimbabweRobert MugabeMorgan Tsvangirai

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