HARARE, Zimbabwe – President Robert Mugabe and his chief rival will attend an emergency summit of southern African leaders to present their conflicting views of the crisis paralyzing the country in the wake of hotly contested elections, spokesmen for the men said Thursday.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change says its candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, won the March 29 vote outright, and accused Mugabe of delaying the results so he can orchestrate a runoff and give ruling party militants time to intimidate voters and ensure he wins a second election.
On Thursday, the MDC leadership resolved not to participate in any runoff presidential vote.
"We won the presidential election hands down, without the need for a runoff," MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti told reporters in neighboring South Africa. Party leaders previously said they would not accept a second round but the party itself had not taken a formal stance.
With no resolution in sight, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa called an emergency summit of the Southern African Development Community for Saturday to discuss the crisis.
"Such meetings are usually very healthy so heads of state can brief each other, not only us in Zimbabwe," Zimbabwean Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told The Associated Press.
But he said the meeting wasn't necessary. "There is no crisis in Zimbabwe that warrants a special meeting on Zimbabwe," he said.
Mwanawasa originally planned to send a delegation of former heads of state to Zimbabwe but decided to hold an urgent summit instead because the situation had grown so serious, Zambian state radio reported.
Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga confirmed Mugabe would be at the meeting.
"If there is a SADC meeting of heads of state, then obviously he will attend," he told the AP.
Tsvangirai also will also attend the summit, MDC spokesman Nqobizitha Mlilo said, reiterating that the opposition leader's election win now makes him a "head of state."
Official results from the presidential vote have not been released, 12 days after the election. The High Court will rule Monday on an opposition request for their release, MDC and elections commission lawyers have said.
Tsvangirai was traveling throughout the region to urge regional leaders to push Mugabe — who has virtually conceded the race but appears to be campaigning for a runoff by intimidating foes and fanning racial tensions — to resign.
He met Botswana's president on Wednesday, and hoped to meet South African President Thabo Mbeki on Thursday before heading to Zambia on Friday, Mlilo said.
"If Mr. Tsvangirai is in town and before the president leaves for the next meeting and his program allows it, it is important to hear what Mr. Tsvangirai has to say," said Aziz Pahad, South Africa's deputy foreign affairs minister.
African leaders previously deferred to Mbeki and his strategy of "quiet diplomacy" on dealing with Zimbabwe. Mwanawasa has stood out as the only southern African leader to publicly criticize Mugabe's policies, last year likening the country's economy to "a sinking Titanic."
On Thursday, the influential Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference called for the appointment of a high-level mediator in Zimbabwe, according to the South African Press Association.
The MDC has accused the ruling party of deploying senior army and police officials across the country to "oversee the reversal process."
Desmond Mufunde, a newly elected MDC councilman from the rural Gweru district, said soldiers attacked some people in his district last weekend.
Zimbabwe's Commercial Farmers' Union accused ruling party supporters of forcing dozens of white farmers off their land and ransacking their homes, warning that continued chaos could endanger the wheat crop vital to a nation that has grown deeply dependent on food aid during the worsening economic crisis.
The U.S.-based National Democratic Institute said one of its staff members was detained last week and held for six days before being released.
Meanwhile, a trial continued for a Briton and an American arrested for allegedly reporting on the election without proper accreditation. The two were released on bail Monday but their passports are being held and they have not been allowed to leave the country.