Zimbabwe Opposition Proposes Sharing Power

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Zimbabwe's opposition party is proposing sharing power with President Robert Mugabe's ruling party, but not with Mugabe.

Opposition leader Tendai Biti rejects official results calling for a presidential runoff and says the only way to resolve the impasse is with a "government of national healing."

He told reporters the opposition's presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai should form a unity government but that Mugabe should surrender power.

Official results released Friday said Tsvangirai won 47.9 percent of the vote to Mugabe's 43.2 percent.

"No candidate has received a majority of votes counted. A second election will be held at a date to be announced," the Electoral Commission said in a statement.

Tsvangirai — who has maintained that he won the vote outright with more than 50 percent of the vote — has said previously that he will not participate in any runoff.

Tsvangirai's polling agent, Chris Mbanga, told The Associated Press Friday that the announcement ignored the party's objections to the verification of the vote count.

"We have been overruled. We are in dispute. It is not fair," Mbanga said.

Officials from the MDC and Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party had been asked to confirm the Electoral Commission's tally as part of the verification process.

Even before the announcement, Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change challenged the process, saying Thursday there were 120,000 unaccounted votes that could give them outright victory.

Earlier Friday, Tsvangirai's spokesman George Sibotshiwe said the MDC anticipated needing another three or four days to examine the verification of the results.

"We just said to the electoral commission we're not moving forward until we understand where these 120,000 votes came from," he said.

The opposition and rights groups also have accused Mugabe of deliberately withholding the presidential results for more than a month to buy time to intimidate voters.

Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga said Friday that the tally indicated a runoff would be necessary. Independent observers also have been saying that Tsvangirai won the most votes, but not the 50 percent plus one vote needed to avoid a runoff.

Matonga said the constitution required a second round be held no sooner than 21 days from the announcement of the results.

Independent rights groups said postelection violence makes it unlikely a runoff could be free and fair.

Mugabe, 84, has been in power since Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980. He has been accused of brutality and increasing autocracy.

But the main campaign issue for many here had been the economic collapse of what had once been a regional breadbasket.