Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai won 47.9 percent of the vote in Zimbabwe's presidential elections, elections officials said Friday — more than longtime President Robert Mugabe but not enough to avoid a runoff.
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change rejected the results and proposed forming a national unity government to include Mugabe's party, but not Mugabe.
But Mugabe accepts the outcome and will run in the second round of balloting, said Emmerson Mnangagwa, a top aide to Mugabe's ruling party.
The Electoral Commission on Friday released the long-delayed results from Zimbabwe's March 29 presidential vote, saying Mugabe won 43.2 percent of votes and that another round of voting was required.
"No candidate has received a majority of votes counted. A second election will be held at a date to be announced," the commission said in a statement.
The opposition party's secretary-general, Tendai Biti, said he believed any runoff would be illegal and risked allowing Mugabe to hold on to power by running opposed.
Mugabe has ruled since Zimbabwe's independence in 1980, keeping his stranglehold on power in recent years through elections that independent observers say were marred by fraud, intimidation and rigging.
The only way to resolve the impasse is with a "government of national healing," Biti told a news conference in neighboring South Africa. Most of the party's leadership, including Tsvangirai, has been out of the country for weeks in which they accuse Mugabe of orchestrating a campaign of violence and intimidation to cow voters ahead of any run-off.
"Morgan Tsvangirai should be allowed to form a government of national healing that includes all Zimbabwean stakeholders," Biti said. "The only condition we give ... is that President Mugabe must immediately concede."
Biti would not categorically rule out contesting a runoff, but said there could not be one "for the simple and good reasons that that country is burning" amid violence and an economic collapse.
Trying to understand process
Even before the results were announced, Tsvangirai's party challenged the process, citing 120,000 unaccounted votes that could prove he won outright.
"We just said to the electoral commission we're not moving forward until we understand where these 120,000 votes came from," Tsvangirai spokesman George Sibotshiwe said hours before the results were released.
He said the party — which says its tabulations show Tsvangirai won with 50.3 percent of the vote — anticipated needing another three or four days to examine the results presented to the MDC and the ruling ZANU-PF as part of the verification process.
Independent observers had said earlier that Tsvangirai won the most votes, but not the 50 percent plus one vote needed to avoid a runoff.
The opposition has accused Mugabe of deliberately delaying the release of the results to buy time to intimidate voters. Rights groups said postelection violence in Zimbabwe has made it unlikely a runoff could be free and fair.
But the main campaign issue for many here had been the economic collapse of what had once been a regional breadbasket.
Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga said the Constitution requires a second round no sooner than 21 days from the announcement of the results.