Wednesday, September 11, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE, AFP) Mugabe election 'free and fair': Constitutional Court
20/08/2013 00:00:00
by AFP

ZIMBABWE’S constitutional court on Tuesday ruled that disputed elections which handed Robert Mugabe five more years in power were free and fair, dismissing allegations of vote-rigging.

"The Zimbabwe presidential election held on 31st July, 2013 was in accordance with the laws of Zimbabwe," Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku said on Tuesday. "The said election was free, fair and credible."

Mugabe was declared the winner in general elections on July 31 with 61 percent of the ballot, against his main rival Morgan Tsvangirai's 34 percent.

Local observers have called the polls flawed and Western powers have raised serious doubts over the vote, but regional organisations the African Union and Southern African Development Community were less critical.

Tsvangirai condemned the election as "a farce" and "a massive fraud" and demanded a forensic audit of the election results, voters' registers and numbers of voters who were turned away and those who were issued with certificates to vote.

He filed a petition two weeks ago challenging Mugabe's re-election vowing expose how the vote was rigged to hand Mugabe victory.

But in a surprise u-turn Friday, Tsvangirai withdrew his petition saying he would not get a fair hearing. He said the courts had frustrated his efforts for the release of election materials to use as evidence.

But the constitutional court went ahead and made a ruling on the case, clearing the way for Mugabe's inauguration on Thursday.
The ruling is unlikely to satisfy Tsvangirai who complains that the country's institutions are stacked with allies of Mugabe.

It is also at odds with the view of the United States, which on Monday said that the recent polls were flawed and that it would not loosen sanctions against Mugabe's government until there are signs of change in the country.

Southern African leaders have however endorsed the vote.

Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, is set to be sworn in as president on Thursday, extending his 33-year rule of the country.

He has told his critics and opponents who were disappointed with the results to “commit suicide if they so wish”.

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