HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe came under increased pressure Monday to allow the release of presidential election results as his rival Morgan Tsvangirai met with ruling party chief Jacob Zuma in South Africa.
The heat on 84-year-old Mugabe was turned up with a flurry of near-simultaneous statements from the European Union, the White House, the US State Department and the United Nations.
The man who says he defeated Mugabe outright, opposition leader Tsvangirai, meanwhile, made his first overseas trip since the March 29 polls.
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was cagey about the visit, describing it as routine and denying any meetings with government officials took place.
However, a spokesman from the African National Congress confirmed to AFP that Tsvangirai held talks with Zuma, who was elected head of the ANC in December and is likely to be the next South African president.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged the commission, whose leaders are appointed by Mugabe, to release results of the polls "expeditiously and with transparency," while the European Union called for them "without further delay."
The US further questioned the logic behind Mugabe's ruling party's call for a recount of the presidential vote.
"It's overdue that the election results be announced," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters in Washington.
"It's interesting that they haven't had the official election results announced, yet there is a call for a recount. I'm not sure of the logic train there," McCormack said.
"Land must remain in our hands. The land is ours, it must not be allowed to slip back into the hands of whites," Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980, was quoted as saying by the state media on Monday.
Critics blame Mugabe's land reform programme, which was intensified after he lost the referendum in 2000, for Zimbabwe's economic meltdown.
Faced with 80 percent unemployment and six-digit inflation, almost one third of Zimbabwe's 13 million population have left the country, both to find work and food as even basics such as bread and cooking oil are now hard to come by.
RLCC Comment: Mugabe is attempting to cheat. His leadership has been disastrous. While the racism of the Whites during Rhodesian rule was awful, Mugabe can not use that as an excuse to continue running Zimbabwe further into the ground. There were and are Whites who would have helped feed the people with proper farming and be much more egalitarian had Mugabe reached out to them in the Christian spirit.
, obtained via: , April 6, 2008, 6:27pm