Robert Mugabe was desperately attempting to cling to power tonight despite his clear defeat in Zimbabwe's presidential election by blocking the electoral commission from releasing official results and threatening to treat an opposition claim of victory as a coup.
The Movement for Democratic Change said that what it regards as the overwhelming win by its candidate for president, Morgan Tsvangirai, is "under threat" despite growing support from foreign monitors for its claim of victory.
The party also said it had "security concerns" after a police raid on its election offices today, and Tsvangirai made no public appearances apparently out of concern for his safety.
Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba, warned Tsvangirai not to declare himself president because that "is called a coup d'etat and we all know how coups are handled".
But sources close to the MDC said that the party leadership has put out feelers to the military and elements of the ruling Zanu-PF to try and arrange a peaceful transfer of power.
Independent monitoring groups said that returns posted at about two-thirds of polling stations gave Tsvangirai 55% of the vote to Mugabe's 36%. The monitors said there is no way now for the president, who even lost in his home territory of Mashonaland as well as other former strongholds, to legitimately win the election.
A third presidential candidate, Simba Makoni, a former finance minister who broke with Mugabe, took about 9%.
Zanu-PF also suffered losses in the parliamentary election with at least nine members of its politburo losing their seats including the vice president, Joice Mujuru, and the defence, information and education ministers.