Harare, April 20 (Reuters): Zimbabwe announced a delay in the partial recount of its disputed March 29 elections today, extending a political deadlock in which the Opposition says 10 of its members have been killed and hundreds arrested.
The delay increased Opposition concern about possible vote-rigging by veteran President Robert Mugabes ZANU-PF party.
The recount could overturn the results of the parliamentary elections, which showed ZANU-PF losing its majority to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) for the first time.
Results of the parallel presidential elections have not been released, but MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he has won.
I can confirm that 10 of our members have died, four of them in the last few days, because of political violence perpetrated by ruling party supporters in the aftermath of the elections, MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said.
Amid mounting regional concern about instability and bloodshed, the 53-member African Union urged Zimbabwe to release the election results immediately and called for restraint from all parties.
African leaders have come under international pressure to take strong action to help resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe, a once prosperous country whose economy is in ruins, beset with inflation and mass unemployment.
The African Union wishes to express its concern over the delay observed in the announcement of Zimbabwes election results, which creates an atmosphere of tension, the African Union said.
The African Union therefore urges competent authorities of the Republic of Zimbabwe to announce the results without any further delay in transparency, thus contributing, inter alia, to reducing the prevailing tension.
Overall, African reaction has been muted so far, despite calls from the US and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to take tougher action.
UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said he would discuss Zimbabwe with African leaders at a UN trade and development conference in Ghana.
In Harare, police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed one death and said the police were investigating.
MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti told a news conference in Johannesburg that 400 party activists had been arrested since the elections, 500 had been taken to hospital with injuries, and 3,000 families had been forced from their homes. As we sit here, hundreds of huts and houses being burnt, he said, adding that people were going hungry. The situation is desperate.