Zimbabwe's MDC accuses Mugabe of plotting rule by decree (1st Lead)
Apr 4, 2008, 7:33 GMT
Johannesburg - Zimbabwe's opposition Friday accused embattled President Robert Mugabe of wanting to rule the southern African country 'illegally' by extending the time-frame for an expected presidential run-off vote by over two months.
In an interview with South African radio, Movement for Democratic Change secretary general Tendai Biti charged Mugabe of plotting to extend the run-off period to 90 days instead of a legally mandated 21.
'He would be ruling illegally because his term expired on March 28 (the day before elections),' Biti charged.
Although the official results of last Saturday's presidential elections vote have yet to be announced, a second round of voting pitting Mugabe against MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has emerged as a strong likelihood.
The MDC has rejected the need for a second round claiming Tsvangirai won outright.
But an estimate from an American-backed NGO, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, showed Tsvangirai falling short of the 50 per cent plus one ballot needed to avoid a runoff, with Mugabe in second place.
The Zimbabwe Independent newspaper Friday quoted 'impeccable sources' as saying Mugabe wanted to use his presidential powers to amend the Electoral Act to extend the run-off period to 90 days and rule by decree in the interim.
Biti also accused Mugabe of plotting a crackdown on the opposition during the run-off period.
'They are preparing for a war,' Biti said.
On Thursday, in a first sign of a security clampdown, police arrested two foreign journalists and ransacked a hotel room used by the MDC to 'look for documents.'
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party was due to meet Friday to discuss the outcome of the elections, including the party's defeat in the 210-seat House of Assembly.
Zimbabweans had been hoping to know the outcome of the presidential results by Friday after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said it would issue results within six days of voting, but that looked increasingly unlikely.
ZEC instead was issuing results from the 60-seat Senate election at the same snail's pace as the parliamentary vote.
With 10 seats announced Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and the MDC were neck and neck with 5 seats each.