HARARE, Zimbabwe

Opposition party in Zimbabwe claims election victory

Zimbabwe’s opposition claimed victory yesterday in the elections, while a slow trickle in official results raised fears that supporters of longtime President Robert Mugabe were rigging the count.

Mugabe has been accused of stealing previous elections, but that was before Zimbabwe’s once thriving farm economy nearly collapsed and before leading members of the ruling party openly defied him.

Independent observers said trends supported the main opposition party’s contention that it was leading in the presidential race, but the monitors said the edge would not be enough to avoid a runoff.

“We have won an election. Mugabe’s victory is not possible given the true facts,” Tendai Biti, secretary-general of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, told reporters.

WASHINGTON

Amid investigation, housing official quits his post

Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson, his tenure tarnished by allegations of political favoritism and a criminal investigation, announced his resignation yesterday amid the wreckage of the national housing crisis.

He leaves behind a trail of unanswered questions about whether he tilted the department toward Republican contractors and cronies.

The move comes at a shaky time for the economy, with soaring mortgage foreclosures imperiling the nation’s credit markets.

In announcing that his last day at HUD will be April 18, Jackson said only, “There comes a time when one must attend more diligently to personal and family matters.”

DETROIT

GM shuts down another plant, cuts about 1,800 jobs

General Motors Corp. shut down a Detroit area sedan plant yesterday, a sign that a strike by supplier American Axle and Manufacturing Holdings Inc. is cutting deeper into GM’s lineup and into the larger auto industry.

GM said it shut down its Hamtramck Assembly Plant, which employs 1,849 hourly workers and makes the Buick Lucerne and Cadillac DTS. It is the 29th plant GM has fully or partially shut because of parts shortages due to the monthlong strike, which has affected just over 39,000 GM hourly workers.

Previously the strike had affected only plants that assemble or supply parts for slow-selling pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, and GM had said the strike wasn’t having much impact because it had such a large inventory of those vehicles.

KIEV, Ukraine

Bush, Putin look to set aside qualms in missiles debate

The White House raised hopes yesterday of achieving a breakthrough agreement to resolve bitter differences with Moscow over missile defenses in Europe when President Bush meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin this weekend.

Bush’s national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, said no deal was in hand yet but the two leaders could nail it down when they meet Sunday in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. “We may. We’re hopeful,” he said. It will be the last meeting between the two men before Putin steps away from the Russian presidency.

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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