The House of Assembly has been lost to Robert Mugabe, a result greeted with relief by Zimbabweans and the international community but hostility from within the Mugabe government.

The focus has now shifted to the result in the presidential race. Although Zimbabweans cast their vote six days ago, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is yet to declare a winner, with speculation mounting that Mugabe won’t relinquish the presidency without a fight.

The opposition claims that a run-off election will deliver an embarrassing defeat to the ruling Zanu PF party, but reports today suggest Mugabe is leaning towards calling for a second ballot.

While some reports suggest the ruling party is brokering a deal for the handover of power, there are also worrying signs that Mugabe is beginning to tenderise the Opposition and its supporters ahead of another presidential poll. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been moved to a safe house “after security forces ransacked one of his party’s offices overnight,” reports the ABC.

This election has been peaceful until now — is it about to become bloody?

Raids spark fears of Zimbabwe crackdown: Robert Mugabe’s government has raided the offices of the Zimbabwean opposition and detained two foreign journalists in an ominous sign he may use intimidation and violence to keep his grip on power. Late on Thursday, police raided a hotel used by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and ransacked some of its rooms. Mugabe has started a crackdown,” said MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti. “It is quite clear he has unleashed a war.” – SBS

Reporters held by regime: Two foreign journalists were detained and rooms used by Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change were reportedly raided on Thursday. The developments were “an ominous sign that President Robert Mugabe might turn to intimidation and violence,” reported Angus Shaw, the experienced Harare correspondent of The Associated Press. One of the journalists arrested was Barry Bearak, a New York Times correspondent based in Johannesburg who was on assignment in Harare. Police told Agence France-Presse that he had been taken into custody for reporting without accreditation. The identity of the other journalist was not known. – ()

Mugabe will fight to the last: Robert Mugabe was last night preparing for a bruising last battle against Morgan Tsvangirai in a likely second round of voting. Bright Matonga, the deputy information minister, said Mr Mugabe would “fight to the last”, shattering hopes that the 84-year-old dictator would agree to step down. Mr Mugabe is set to hold a crucial meeting with his Soviet-style politburo in Harare this morning to plan for a probable run-off later this month. In a chilling warning to opposition supporters, Mr Matonga said his Zanu-PF party would muster all its forces to defeat Mr Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). – The Scotsman

Rumours of a conditional Mugabe resignation: Robert Mugabe’s aides have told Zimbabwe’s opposition leaders that he is prepared to give up power in return for guarantees, including immunity from prosecution for past crimes. But the aides have warned that if the Movement for Democratic Change does not agree then Mugabe is threatening to declare emergency rule and force another presidential election in 90 days, according to senior opposition sources.The opposition said the MDC leadership is in direct talks with the highest levels of the army but it is treating the approach with caution because they are distrustful of the individuals involved and calling for direct contact with the president, fearing delaying tactics. — Guardian

Peace slipping away: The prospects for a peaceful transition of power to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) diminished after a day in which security chiefs were reported to have told the ruling Zanu-PF party to refuse to accept a poll defeat … A security source speaking on condition of anonymity said that air force personnel had been called in and told to prepare for violence. There was no confirmation about whether a similar call had been made to the police or army, but the so-called “war veterans” organisation, a paramilitary group often used for intimidating political opponents, was reported to have been called to muster. — The Independent

It’s an election, not a negotiation: The Zimbabwean Electoral Commission released the first 10 out of 59 results for the contested Senate seats an hour ago. The results so far show the same now familiar pattern of an even split – this time it’s five seats to the MDC (Tsvangirai), five seats to Zanu PF. ZEC claims that the delay in announcement is due to logistical constraints, but if that were the case, why did the 5am news this morning claim they would start announcing results “early this morning.” The real reason they’ve been so delayed, I’m sure, is because there is some kind of deal making and negotiation going on behind the scenes. Both parties claim they’re not. But there’s talk that the MDC, Zanu PF and the security forces are in negotiations. There are hints that Zanu PF is “deciding” whether they’ll take the election to a run-off. But it’s not for them to decide – it’s been decided already, in the numbers of votes cast for each presidential candidate. — Amanda Atwood, Kubatana Blogs