The second-round run-off in Zimbabwe’s disputed presidential election will be held on 27 June, the government says.

The electoral commission’s announcement was made in a government gazette.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai beat President Robert Mugabe in the first round, but not by enough to avoid a run-off, according to official data.

Mr Tsvangirai says he will contest the second round, but accuses Mr Mugabe’s party of a campaign of intimidation against potential opposition voters.

He had originally threatened to boycott the vote, because of what he said were opposition attempts to rig it, but last weekend said he would take part.

Nonetheless, Mr Tsvangirai told the BBC that exploratory contacts were under way between his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the ruling Zanu-PF on the option of a unity government.

Zimbabwe has been in political crisis since parliamentary and presidential elections on 29 March.

The run-off was due to be held by 23 May – 21 days after the results of the first round were announced – but the government then issued an emergency law allowing it 90 days to organise the new poll.

Mr Tsvangirai said that was a plot to allow the government to organise further intimidation.

‘Military takeover’

Speaking to the BBC’s Orla Guerin, Mr Tsvangirai said Zanu-PF had made “overtures” to the MDC about the possibility of a national unity government.

“I can confirm that there are contacts [with Zanu-PF] and it’s merely at exploration as to what can be done,” he said.

“Nothing concrete has been put in place, but on the sidelines there may be: ‘Can we talk?’ at a very minimum stage.”

He added: “Every conflict ends up at the negotiating table. We are open to the idea, but it’s certainly not a priority.

“It’s not overtures from us, it’s overtures from them. If you’re approached you don’t say: ‘I don’t want to talk.'”

Mr Tsvangirai told the BBC Mr Mugabe had lost control of the country and that the army was now in charge.

He said: “Mugabe may be the figurehead but the people who have taken over are the military.”

Mr Tsvangirai has been out of Zimbabwe since the first-round vote because of alleged threats to his life.

But the MDC says he will return to address a rally in Bulawayo on Sunday.

Opposition and human rights groups have alleged a government campaign of abuses against MDC supporters.

The MDC says 35 people have been killed since the election and thousands displaced and tortured.

But Zanu-PF says there is no government campaign of intimidation and blames all the violence on the MDC.

Source: BBC