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Zimbabwe's rival parties tied in preliminary results of polls
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Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF has received 31 seats in the House of Assembly, followed by the opposition Movement of Democratic Change (MDC) Morgan Tsvangirai faction with 30 seats, according to results of elections for members of the House of Assembly having been announced so far.

Zimbabweans read election results posted on a polling station in Harare. Zimbabwe's opposition took an early lead in the country's elections Monday, March 31, as authorities finally released the first batch of results after being accused of trying to help Robert Mugabe cling to power.

Six seats have gone to other candidates, including the ones representing the MDC Mutambara faction, a smaller wing of the MDC, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced earlier Monday.

Former interactive affairs minister Chen Chimutengwende of the ruling party lost the Mazowe Central seat to Shepherd Mushonga of the MDC Tsvangirai faction. Former justice minister Patrick Chinamasa of ZANU-PF has lost the Makoni Central seat to John Nyamande of the MDC Tsvangirai faction.

Zimbabwe's ministers are appointed by the president and are selected from members of parliament.

ZEC Chairman Justice George Chiweshe said Sunday that it normally needs four days to count and collect the votes for the first-ever combined elections for parliamentarians, local councilors and president. He said the former election was single election, either presidential or parliamentary or city council.

In the House of Assembly elected in March 2005, ZANU-PF had 108 seats and MDC had 41 seats while the independent had only one seat.

The number of the members of the House of Assembly was increased to 210 after a bill was passed last year.

The MDC was split into two factions in 2006, respectively led by Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara.

The elections held on March 29 pit President Robert Mugabe, leader of the ZANU-PF, against Tsvangirai and independent candidate Simba Makoni, who was former finance minister. Mutambara did not run for presidency but supported Makoni's bidding.

(Xinhua News Agency April 1, 2008)

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