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Opposition to boycott run-off vote in Zimbabwe election

The opposition party said Thursday it will not participate in a presidential run-off, while spokesmen for President Robert Mugabe and his chief rival said both will attend an emergency summit of southern African leaders this weekend.

Zimbabwe's opposition party said Thursday it will not participate in a presidential run-off vote, arguing that it won the March 29 election outright.

The Movement for Democratic Change says its candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, was the clear victor, and is accusing President Robert Mugabe of delaying the release of the March 29 results to give militants from his ruling party time to intimidate voters and ensure he wins a second round.

"We won the presidential election hands down, without the need for a run-off," MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti told reporters at a news conference in neighbouring South Africa.

Party leaders had previously said they would not accept a second round, but the party had not taken a formal stance until Thursday.

Deputy information minister Bright Matonga told CNN Thursday he believed opposition politicians would be "cowards" if they did not contest a run-off.

"They should come, they should face the music," he said.

Twelve days after the vote, the results from the presidential race have not been released. The country's High Court will decide Monday whether to grant an opposition request for release of the election results.

Emergency meeting unnecessary: Zimbabwe minister

Meanwhile, Mugabe and Tsvangirai will attend an emergency summit of southern African leaders on Saturday, their spokesmen said.

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa called the summit of the Southern African Development Community to discuss the crisis.

Zimbabwean Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told the Associated Press such meetings are usually productive, although he insisted this one is not necessary.

"There is no crisis in Zimbabwe that warrants a special meeting on Zimbabwe," he said.

But Ndlovu's deputy minister, Matonga, confirmed that Mugabe would attend.

"If there is a SADC meeting of heads of state, then obviously he will attend," he told the Associated Press.

MDC spokesman Nqobizitha Mlilo said Tsvangirai will also attend the summit, calling him a "head of state." The party's secretary general, Biti, said MDC would ask summit leaders to urge Mugabe to step down.