12:39 01Apr08 RTRS-UPDATE 1-Zimbabwe ruling party projection shows run-off needed
HARARE, April 1 (Reuters) - A projection by Zimbabwe's ruling party shows opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai will beat President Robert Mugabe in the country's election but a runoff will be needed, ZANU-PF party sources said on Tuesday.
Two senior sources who asked not to be named said projections showed Tsvangirai getting 48.3 percent, against Mugabe's 43 percent, with third candidate Simba Makoni taking eight percent. For an outright victory, a candidate must get 51 percent.
"What this means is that we are looking at a re-run because he did not win with a margin of over 51 percent that would have given him the job straight away," one of the sources said.
A projection by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) also predicted a runoff, with Tsvangirai taking 49.4 percent and Mugabe 41.8 percent. Makoni, a ZANU-PF defector, would get 8.2 percent.
The opposition is expected to unite behind one candidate if there is a runoff, which would be held three weeks after last Saturday's election.
A senior Western diplomat told Reuters a re-run was likely.
"We can all speculate about what they (ZANU-PF) did or did not do. But when you look at some of the projections by other observers, such as ZESN, they are pointing to a rerun," he said.
The opposition alleges a long delay in issuing presidential election results is covering rigging by Mugabe.
The ZANU-PF projection showed Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) narrowly winning the lower house of parliament but the government retaining control of the Senate.