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Tsvangirai delays Zimbabwe runoff decision

  • Story Highlights
  • Morgan Tsvangirai delays making decision on Zimbabwe presidential runoff
  • Party contends Morgan Tsvangirai already defeated President Robert Mugabe
  • Spokesman: "This is a historic decision. The party is still consulting"
  • If opposition doesn't participate in vote, Mugabe retains office
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HARARE, Zimbabwe (CNN) -- The opposition candidate who bested Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe in the March presidential balloting is in no hurry to announce whether he will participate in a runoff election, his spokesman said Sunday.

Tsvangirai won 47.9 percent of the presidential vote according to official results released Friday.

A day earlier, a spokesman for Morgan Tsvangirai said the opposition leader would make an announcement Sunday.

"This is a historic decision. The party is still consulting," spokesman George Sibotshiwe told CNN Sunday morning. "We need to ensure that the decision we make is a people's decision.

"The date of the run off has not been set yet so there is no urgency to make an announcement."

A runoff is required under Zimbabwean law if neither candidate gets 50 percent plus one vote in an election.

The African nation's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, has refused to agree to a second round of voting, claiming its candidate already has enough votes to replace Mugabe.

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The MDC says the initial tally of votes showed Tsvangirai garnering 50.3 percent of the vote in the initial tally from the March 29, before a verification of the numbers was done this week.

That official tally was released Friday by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, showing that Tsvangirai won 47.9 percent of the vote compared to 43.2 percent for Mugabe. Find out details on the Zimbabwe election »

MDC Vice President Thokozani Khupe held a news conference Saturday after a meeting of top MDC officials, who she said agreed that a runoff was unnecessary.

If they refuse to support a runoff, Mugabe will retain the office. Video Watch what's next for the MDC »

"We need to be convinced that there is need for a runoff," Khupe said. "The verification process was not done properly."

"In other words, there is a deadlock resulting from the (ZEC's) failure to execute its duties as required by the law."

The Tsvangirai spokesman told CNN the candidate was consulting with political leaders in the region, in hopes they can convince Mugabe to step down. Tsvangirai also was traveling to Ghana to meet with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.


Meanwhile, South African President Thabo Mbeki is dispatching a team to investigate post-election violence in Zimbabwe. The team is expected to leave Monday.

There has been widespread violence and accusations from the opposition that Mugabe and his supporters have orchestrated a plan to remain in control of government and weed out opposition supporters by general intimidation. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Nkepile Mabuse in Johannesburg, South Africa, contributed to this report.

All About ZimbabweRobert MugabeMorgan Tsvangirai

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