Zimbabwe’s two main political parties remained neck and neck Wednesday with more than two-thirds of the weekend’s parliamentary vote counted and declared.
The ruling ZANU-PF party was slightly leading its main rival, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), with 93 seats to 91.
But a splinter MDC group has garnered five seats, giving the opposition a slight overall lead in the poll.
Results from a total of 188 constituencies had been announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) by Wednesday morning, leaving 22 yet to be declared.
Most of the remaining constituencies are in opposition strongholds, raising the prospect of the ruling party being defeated for the first time in an election in Zimbabwe.
But ZEC remained mum Wednesday over the results of the key presidential vote, which was simultaneously held on Saturday.
This has prompted a flurry of rumours and speculation, both inside and outside Zimbabwe.
The opposition and some foreign governments, particularly western countries opposed to Mugabe, have interpreted the delay in announcing the presidential results as an attempt by the authorities to rig the poll.
Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe uninterrupted for 28 years, was strongly challenged in the election by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and former Finance Minister Simba Makoni.
The MDC has already claimed victory, saying early returns indicated Tsvangirai won more than 60 percent of the presidential vote and Mugabe 30 percent.
But the ZEC has said this was mere speculation, and advised the public to be patient for official results, which officials said were expected Thursday..
The delay in announcing the results have caused deep anxiety and speculation of possible rigging of the ballot.
The army and police have been placed on full alert to thwart any violence related to the election results.
Almost six million people were registered to vote in the election, which also included polls for the two chambers of parliamentary and the local government. Panapress.