Zimbabwe’s opposition file presidential poll challenge

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MDC Alliance's Nelson Chamisa claims the presidential election result was doctored to favour Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa gestures during the launch of his party’s election manifesto in Harare, Zimbabwe, June 7, 2018. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Zimbabwe’s main opposition party on Friday filed a legal challenge to the results of the country’s first election without Robert Mugabe on the ballot.

Lawyers for the Movement for Democratic Change party arrived at court less than an hour before the Friday deadline to submit papers alleging the July 30 vote was rigged. They were accompanied by Jameson Timba, the chief election agent for the party led by Nelson Chamisa.

“We have a good case and cause!” Chamisa said on Twitter.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has said President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the ruling Zanu-PF party won the election, with the president receiving 50.8% of the vote. The court filing would delay the inauguration that the government had been planning for Sunday. The court has 14 days to rule.

Mnangagwa, an ex-vice president and long-time confidant of former leader Mugabe, says he wants to make Zimbabwe more open and democratic.

Mugabe resigned in November after a military takeover, and many Zimbabweans were euphoric at his departure after decades of economic and political paralysis.

Two days after the election, however, soldiers opened fire during opposition protests in Harare, with six people killed.

Foreign governments, Western election observers and human rights activists have expressed concern about the “excessive” force and reports of opposition supporters being targeted by security forces since then.

On Thursday, senior opposition figure Tendai Biti was charged with inciting public violence and declaring unofficial election results as fears grew about a government crackdown.

Biti asserted before the electoral commission’s official announcement that Chamisa was the real winner. The commission has said Chamisa received 44.3% of the vote.

Biti first fled to Zambia, where authorities denied asylum and handed him over to Zimbabwean security forces in defiance of a Zambian court order. The United States and several other nations, as well as the UN refugee agency, have expressed grave concern

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