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Zimbabwe opposition on deadline to appeal election result

AFP  |  Harare 

Zimbabwe's opposition faced a midnight deadline today to mount a court challenge to the results of marked by allegations of fraud and followed by a government crackdown.

The alleges that Emmerson Mnangagwa's slender victory in Zimbabwe's first post-Mugabe election was rigged.

Mnangagwa, who is seeking to reverse Zimbabwe's economic isolation and attract desperately needed foreign investment, had vowed the elections would turn a page on Robert Mugabe's repressive 37-year rule.

International monitors largely praised the conduct of the election itself, although EU observers said that Mnangagwa, a former Mugabe ally, benefitted from an "un-level playing field" and some voter intimidation.

Mnangagwa of the ruling won the with 50.8 per cent of the vote -- just enough to avoid a run-off against the MDC's Nelson Chamisa, who scored 44.3 per cent.

Chamisa has called the election results as "falsified and inflated" to ensure Mnangagwa won.

The MDC must lodge its appeal at the by the end of today -- seven days after the results were announced.

A told AFP that the MDC had until midnight (2200 GMT), although the court closes at 4:00 pm.

MDC spokesmen were not immediately available to comment, but last week said that the Electoral Commission's figures "grossly, mathematically fail to tally".

He said the party had evidence "for the purposes, not just of mounting a credible and sustainable challenge, but that will yield a vacation of the entire process." - Courts favour ruling party?

Analysts say that the legal challenge has little chance of success given the courts' historic tilt towards the ZANU-PF, which has ruled since independence from British colonial rule in 1980.

But the court action could delay Mnangagwa's inauguration, scheduled for Sunday.

The polls' aftermath has been marred by allegations of a crackdown on opposition members, including beatings and arrests.

On August 1, soldiers opened fire on MDC protesters, killing six people and sparking an international outcry.

Also today, lawyers for senior opposition figure asked judges to throw out charges against him over the protests against alleged election fraud, in a case raising further international concern about the new government.

Diplomats and election observers were present at the court hearing in after Biti fled to but was handed back to despite claiming asylum.

He faces charges of inciting the protests last week by proclaiming victory for the opposition.

"faces a terrible threat from a group of people that has no respect for the law," Biti, who was granted bail yesterday, told the court.

Mnangagwa wrote on that Biti was released after he intervened personally in the case.

The Human Rights Commission, established under the 2013 constitution, today released a damning report into the post-election crackdown.

It said it had received numerous complaints of intimidation, often by men in military uniform, of voters thought to have backed the opposition.

"The ZHRC has established that there is hunting down and harassment of polling agents for independent candidates and opposition political parties," it said.

In a joint statement yesterday, the EU, US, Canadian and Australian missions to Zimbabwe urged authorities to guarantee Biti's safety and human rights.

They said they were "deeply disturbed by continuing reports that opposition supporters are being targeted by members of the Zimbabwean security forces".

The president, the and the electoral commission have denied all charges of cheating.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, August 10 2018. 19:30 IST