President Robert Mugabe's inner circle called for an emergency meeting this morning to debate whether the president should step down or...

Share story

HARARE, Zimbabwe — President Robert Mugabe’s inner circle called for an emergency meeting this morning to debate whether the president should step down or stand for a second round of voting against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who appeared to receive more votes in last weekend’s election, ruling party sources said.

Some, including one of Mugabe’s closest confidants, said Thursday that three options were under discussion: a negotiated, immediate departure for Mugabe; a second round of voting by April 19 as required by law; or a 90-day state of emergency in hopes of improving conditions before an eventual runoff. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity.

The dire state of Zimbabwe’s finances makes organizing a second round of voting difficult, sources said. Some ruling-party officials are arguing a runoff this month is impractical and Mugabe must use emergency presidential powers to delay that vote until June or July.

Amid anxiety about the election results, police in the capital of Harare raided opposition-party hotel rooms and a lodge where several foreigners were staying. Among those detained was New York Times correspondent Barry Bearak. Police also led away a second journalist and two other foreigners whose identities were not immediately known.

Zimbabwean officials have barred all but a handful of foreign correspondents from covering the election.

The pace of diplomatic activity intensified throughout the day, with South African officials shuttling between Mugabe’s camp and Tsvangirai’s. Key issues in their talks included whether Mugabe and his allies would receive immunity from prosecution for any crimes against humanity, the sources said.