Zimbabwe court rejects opposition attempt to annul election result

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson Priscilla Chigumba arrives at Harare courthouse. The Constitutional Court said it would hand down its verdict after considering arguments put before judges on Wednesday

FILE PHOTO: Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa at a news conference at State House in Harare, Zimbabwe, Aug. 3, 2018.

In a unanimous ruling of the nine judges of the country's top court, Chief Justice Luke Malaba said Chamisa had failed to prove allegations of fraud during the presidential vote.

When Chamisa's supporters took to the streets the day after the election commission declared Mnangagwa the victor to protest the results, police responded by using tear gas and live fire, killing six people.

But the vote has once again left the nation polarized after violence flared on the streets of Harare, and Chamisa, who leads the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), mounted his legal challenge.

Mnangagwa, of the ruling ZANU-PF party, won the election with 50.8 percent of the vote - just enough to pass the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff against Chamisa, who finished second with 44.3 percent.

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Malaba dismissed the application with costs after strongly criticising the MDC's case.

The country's Constitutional Court ruled unanimously in his favor Friday, determining that a legal challenge from the principal opposition party had failed to back up its claims of vast election irregularities. "The election results were firmly in line with all the pre-election polling, and were entirely consistent with the final tally of ZESN (Zimbabwe Election Support Network), the largest body of independent observers", Mnangagwa wrote on his Twitter handle.

Douglas Mwonzora, the MDC secretary general, said the party would respect the decision of the highest court of the land and had not yet made a decision about a campaign of protests. "Your will is sacred & we'll listen to you on the path of peace & course of action to be taken to rescue our lovely Zimbabwe from the jaws of poverty, corruption & dishonesty".

Derek Matyszak, a legal expert at the University of Zimbabwe, had predicted that the opposition faced an uphill struggle given the courts' historic tilt towards ZANU-PF, which has ruled since independence from British colonial rule in 1980.

The 94-year-old Mugabe was forced from office by a military takeover last year after almost 40 years in power, surrendering the presidency to Mnangagwa, his vice president.

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What has President Mnangagwa said?

The July 30 vote was peaceful but scenes of the military sweeping into the capital two days later to disperse opposition protesters led to fears that Mnangagwa's government was stuck in the past despite declarations of reforms. The opposition claims vote-rigging and seeks either a fresh election or a declaration that its candidate, Nelson Chamisa, won.

The court's ruling can not be appealed.

Mnangagwa, is now most likely be inaugurated on Sunday.

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