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Zimbabwe summit: Release vote results

  • Story Highlights
  • Election summit in Lusaka, Zambia ends, says no crisis in Zimbabwe
  • Calls for release of results as soon as possible, says government is legitimate
  • High Court expected to decide Monday whether initial count result can be released
  • Zimbabwe's opposition MDC party calls for a general strike to start Tuesday
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LUSAKA, Zambia (CNN) -- A summit of Southern African leaders, meeting to discuss Zimbabwe's electoral stalemate, concluded Sunday with a weak declaration that appealed for a quick release of the results and the conclusion that the country is not in crisis.

The one-day summit in Zambia's capital, Lusaka, was seen by observers as a test of the Southern African Development Community's willingness, capability and resolve to sort out the vote fiasco, which resulted from the March 29 election.

The 14-member group has failed in the past to condemn Mugabe for alleged electoral fraud and human rights abuses.

The summit, convened by Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, released a two-page report that said the elections were free and that the current government was legitimate as all the results have yet to be counted. It also offered to send observers if a second round of elections was warranted. Video Watch report on the summit. »

The report did not condemn the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's decision to recount votes in at least 23 districts -- where Mugabe's Zanu-PF party claims discrepancies -- even before the release of results of all votes cast.

Commission chairman Justice George Chiweshe said that a recount would be held April 19, according to the state-run Sunday Mail.

Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president for 28 years and under pressure on diplomatic and domestic fronts to resolve the crisis, initially planned to attend the summit, but did not.

Instead he held talks with South African President Thabo Mbeki in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, Saturday, after which Mbeki -- en route to the Lusaka summit -- told reporters that there was no crisis.

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of main opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change, attended the summit and expected it to take a strong stance against Mugabe's government and demand that he relinquish power. He met with Mbeki in Johannesburg on Thursday night.

Tsvangirai has already declared victory based on vote counts posted at polling stations in Zimbabwe's 210 voting constituencies. He has said he would not take part in a runoff with Mugabe, which the government has suggested is likely.

Inside the country, Tsvangirai has called for a general strike to start Tuesday -- the day after the High Court is due to decide whether to force election officials to publish the results.

The strike would involve workers and others staying home in protest -- days after Mugabe's government banned political rallies.

Zimbabwe's state-run newspaper, The Herald, has indicated that neither Mugabe nor Tsvangirai received enough votes in the election to avoid a runoff. A candidate must receive 50 percent plus one vote to win the election without a runoff. Tsvangirai has said he would not take part in a runoff with Mugabe.

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Mugabe, 84, is the only ruler Zimbabwe has had since British rule of the former Rhodesia came to end in 1980.

He has been re-elected several times but often running either unopposed or in elections that prompted charges of fraud and state-sponsored terrorism against opponents. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About ZimbabweRobert MugabeMorgan Tsvangirai

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