Zimbabwe began a partial recount of votes from the March 29 elections on Saturday, despite opposition efforts to block it and widespread fears political stalemate could erupt into violence.
The recount in 23 of 210 constituencies could overturn the results of the parliamentary election, which showed President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF losing its majority to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change for the first time.
ZANU-PF lost 21 out of those 23 constituencies in the original count. Results of a parallel presidential vote have not been released, but MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he has won.
"The vote recounting process has started, and it's going to be a thorough exercise. We expect it to take about three days," a Zimbabwe Electoral Commission official told Reuters. The official, who declined to be named, refused to give any details.
A delegation from the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) attended the recount, led by South Africa's foreign affairs deputy director-general for Africa, Kingsley Mamabolo. There have been concerns in the West and among the opposition that Mugabe is planning to rig the outcome.
Both U.S. President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have urged African states to take more action to end the post-election deadlock in Zimbabwe.
SADC called last weekend for the outcome to be announced quickly, but African reaction has been subdued overall. The continent has largely taken its cue from South African President Thabo Mbeki, attacked both at home and abroad for his "quiet diplomacy" approach to Mugabe.
A Reuters correspondent at one of the counting stations -- in Domboshava rural district about 30 km (19 miles) north of Harare -- said SADC observers and diplomats were present to witness the vote recount.