AFRICA MUST ACT

HARARE - Zambia called an emergency meeting of southern Africa's regional bloc on Saturday to discuss Zimbabwe's post-election impasse, President Levy Mwanawasa said yesterday.

HARARE - Zambia called an emergency meeting of southern Africa's regional bloc on Saturday to discuss Zimbabwe's post-election impasse, President Levy Mwanawasa said yesterday.

Mwanawasa, who chairs the Southern African Development Community, SADC, said in Lusaka the crisis required a concerted effort by all southern African countries to find a solution.

It was the first move by Zimbabwe's neighbours to intervene after the March 29 elections.

A lawyer for Zimbabwe's Electoral Commission (ZEC) said yesterday it would be "dangerous" for the high court to order the release of presidential election results as demanded by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The MDC has gone to court to try to force the election result, saying its leader Morgan Tsvangirai has won and should be declared president.

President Robert Mugabe is trying to delay the result announcement, pending a recount, to give him time to prepare for a probable run-off against Tsvangirai.

George Chikumbirike, a lawyer for the ZEC, said: "It would be dangerous in my view to give an order because it might not be complied with because of outside exigencies that the ZEC will be unable to control."

Chikumbirike declined to say how far the ZEC had gone in preparing to announce the result, saying this was privileged information which "the commission is entitled to release when it's ready".

Zimbabwe's third presidential candidate, Simba Makoni, also urged the urgent release of the results. In Brussels, Europe Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso also voiced concern.

The MDC says Mugabe has unleashed a wave of violence against the opposition since the election and called on African nations to intervene to prevent further bloodshed.

ANC president Jaco Zuma said: "I think the ZEC should have announced the results by now." - Reuters

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