Zimbabwe court halts recounting of votes: MDC

April 13th, 2008 - 8:10 pm ICT by admin  

Harare, April 13 (DPA) Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change said Sunday the country’s high court has ordered the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to stop it from recounting the results of March 29 elections. A lawyer for the MDC said the party approached the court late Friday for a court order against ZEC after ZEC notified the party it would carry out a recount of votes cast in the combined presidential, parliamentary and local elections.

The MDC objected on the basis that the results of the presidential election have not yet been made public.

“The judge found it not just illegal but grossly unreasonable to order a recount before the result is out. The law is clear about when the recount is done. A candidate requests for a recount within 48 hours after the result has been declared.” MDC lawyer Selby Hwacha told DPA.

ZEC’s announcement Sunday that it would recount votes cast in 23 out of 210 constituencies - mainly at the instigation of President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party - was its “second bite at the cherry,” Hwacha said.

The MDC would go back to court to oppose the recount, he said.

ZEC said there “reasonable grounds” to suspect votes were miscounted in a way that could affect the outcome.

The MDC accuses Mugabe of seeking to overturn its win in elections to the House of Assembly (lower house of parliament) and what it claims as leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s victory in the presidential vote.

“We will not accept any recount because for us that is accepting rigged results. ZEC are in custody of the ballot boxes for two weeks and heavens know what they have done to the ballot papers. They might have stuffed them with their votes,” MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said.

Zanu-PF has accused the MDC of vote buying and bribing ZEC officials and says neither Mugabe nor Tsvangirai won the presidential election outright, necessitating a runoff.

The High Court meanwhile is considering a separate application by the MDC for a court order forcing ZEC to release the presidential results.

A ruling in that case was expected Monday.

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