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Zimbabwe election commission says run-off needed in contested presidential race

[JURIST] Opposition Movement for Democratic Change [party website] candidate Morgan Tsvangirai [BBC profile] won a slim majority in Zimbabwe's contested March presidential election [JURIST report] but not enough to avoid a run-off vote against current Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], election officials said Friday. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) [official website] had long delayed releasing the official results because of claimed "errors and miscalculations" in its compilation, despite an attempt [JURIST report] by the MDC to force it to release election results. The ZEC reported Friday that Tsvangirai won 47.9 percent of the vote, while Mugabe won 43.2 percent. The MDC has said that it is willing to form a coalition government with Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) [party website], but will not work with Mugabe himself. AP has more.

An MDC spokesman earlier rejected the need for a runoff [AP report], saying that only a rigged election would produce the results that would necessitate one. Violence has wracked the country since the March election, with frequent clashes between opposition forces and government supporters. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] Wednesday accused the Zimbabwean army of working with the ruling party [HRW report] to detain, torture, and murder political opponents, and urged the African Union and the UN Security Council to push for an end to the violence.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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