President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe has filed submissions in the country’s highest court opposing a court challenge to his victory by main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, one of Mnangagwa’s lawyers said on Wednesday.
Chamisa has said the July 30 vote was rigged and challenged the result which gave Mnangagwa 2.46 million votes against 2.15 million votes for him.
In the petition on Friday, Chamisa’s party, the Movement for Democratic Change filed their paperwork with Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court, alleging the result of the July 30 election had been rigged in favour of incumbent Mnangagwa, the leader of the ruling ZANU-PF party.
Party lawyers arrived at the court in the capital, Harare, with plastic boxes full of paperwork.
Zimbabwe’s electoral commission has said Mnangagwa won the election, the first without longtime President Robert Mugabe on the ballot form, garnering 50.8 per cent of the vote against 44.3 per cent for Chamisa.
Chamisa has claimed he won 56 per cent of votes and called the election “fraudulent, illegal and illegitimate”.
Judges have 14 days to rule on the case, delaying the inauguration of Mnangagwa which was scheduled for Sunday.
Mnangagwa, who took over after a military intervention in November 2017, had vowed the first elections after the conclusion of Mugabe’s 37-year rule would be free and fair.
EU observers said that the ZANU-PF candidate had benefitted from an “un-level playing field” and some voter intimidation, though international monitors largely praised the conduct of the election.
On August 1, clashes broke out between security forces and opposition supporters.
Six died after soldiers opened fire on the protesters in a response the opposition alliance called “disproportionate and unjustified”.
On August 9, opposition figure Tendai Biti was detained by Zimbabwean police after Zambian authorities rejected his bid for asylum.
Police declared Biti and eight other opposition leaders wanted for allegedly fomenting violence following the disputed national election.