"We have no reason why they have not yet announced the results and are beginning to take issue on whether ZEC [Zimbabwe's electoral commission] is independent or not."
 
Run-off possible
 
A week after the presidential vote, Zimbabwe's electoral commission has not posted official results, despite mounting international pressure.
 
The MDC claims that Morgan Tsvangirai, its leader, won more than the 50 per cent of votes needed to secure the presidency in last Saturday's election.
 
But Zanu-PF, the ruling party, says that neither Tsvangirai nor Mugabe won more than 50 per cent of the vote.

Mugabe's decision to contest a run-off against Tsvangirai comes after he failed to defeat his rival in the first round, a senior Zanu-PF official said.
 
"It's definite there will be a re-run. We are down but not out," Didymus Mutasa, Zanu-PF secretary for administration, said on Friday after a meeting of the party's politburo.
 
"Absolutely the candidate will be Robert Gabriel Mugabe, who else would it be other than our dear old man?" he said.
 
The MDC says that while its own calculations show Tsvangirai won, it is still prepared to compete in a second round if necessary.
 
Zimbabwean law dictates that there must be a run-off within 21 days.
 
Nelson Chamisa, an MDC spokesman, told Al Jazeera on Saturday that the international community ought to intervene to ensure security in Zimbabwe should the presidential election enter a second round.
 
"We need to make sure that in this country there is some intervention... to help in abating the spillage of blood if we are going to have a run-off, which is totally unacceptable considering the fact that the MDC has won the presidential election," he said.
 
Court hearing
 
Zanu-PF has claimed it has evidence that the opposition MDC had bribed electoral officials in parallel parliamentary elections, and said it would contest the results.
 
Mutasa said the party planned to contest "16 or more seats", potentially enough for it to overtake the MDC.

"This the worst-run election I have ever experienced," Mutasa said.

Despite reports of splits in the Zanu-PF and diplomatic efforts to persuade Mugabe to step aside, Mutasa said the ruling party was fully behind the 84-year old.
  
"We will take him and carry him wherever we go," he said.

Veterans' support

Mugabe also received a show of support from the country's so-called war veterans - many of whom were born after independence in 1980 -who vowed to "defend the country's sovereignty" in the aftermath of the vote.

Mugabe has signalled that he is willing to enter
into a run-off vote for the presidency [AFP]
 
Jabulani Sibanda, the veterans' leader, hit out at "illegal" MDC claims of victory and said "the spirit of our people is being provoked".  

"We will be forced to defend our sovereignty," Sibanda said after 400 veterans had staged a silent march through central Harare.
 
George Shire, a political analyst based in London, told Al Jazeera that the veterans position was "not an empty threat".
 
"The land issue is the central emotive conflictual issue in Zimbabwean politics... It is something that has dominated for the last century and which has influenced government ideologies," he said.

"This is not something that happened centuries ago - these are people who have lost their families, lost their relatives, lost their friends in a war about land."

Although a run-off has to be held before April 19, some MDC sources allege Mugabe plans to extend that to 90 days to give him time to regroup.

Meanwhile, police were still holding two foreign journalists on charges of operating without accreditation despite the attorney general's office ordering their release.

Barry Bearak, a New York Times correspondent, and a 45-year-old British journalist were both detained on Thursday during a raid on a Harare guest house and later charged with breaching the country's media laws.