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Bush: Zimbabwe must release vote tally now

WASHINGTON (AFP) — US President George W. Bush on Thursday called on Zimbabwe's election authorities to release the results from the country's disputed March 29 presidential vote, the White House said.

In a telephone conversation with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, Bush "reiterated calls by the United States for the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission to release the presidential election results as soon as possible and that they reflect the will of the people," said spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

"President Bush thanked President Kikwete for his work as African Union president and the two leaders discussed their shared, strong concern about the need for a peaceful resolution to the electoral crisis in Zimbabwe," he said.

"Recent arrests of journalists and activists are deeply troubling and need to stop," Johndroe said in a statement.

His comments came as Zimbabwe's opposition said its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, will not take part in a presidential run-off against incumbent Robert Mugabe.

Tsvangirai has already claimed to have won enough votes to avoid a second round run-off against Mugabe. The president's party however says a run-off will take place with Mugabe again as its candidate.

The electoral commission says it needs more time to collate and verify the votes, even though the body has already begun dismantling its operations center in the capital Harare.