Zimbabwe court quashes hope for speedy end to poll wait

April 14th, 2008 - 9:34 pm ICT by admin  

Johannesburg/Harare, April 14 (DPA) Zimbabwe’s high court Monday dismissed an application by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) for an order forcing the state-controlled Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to release the results of March 29 elections. Zimbabweans have been waiting for 16 days to know the outcome of the presidential election, in which MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai claims to have defeated longtime President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe’s party claims neither Mugabe nor Tsvangirai won outright and that a runoff will be needed to decide the winner.

Judge Tendai Uchena dismissed the urgent application brought by the MDC more than a week ago with costs, quashing hopes of any imminent end to the tense election watch.

The ZEC’s failure to announce the outcome has caused consternation in Zimbabwe and abroad. The results were posted outside polling stations around the country the day after voting.

On Sunday, an emergency meeting of Zimbabwe’s neighbours in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) ended with a call for the ZEC to release the results “expeditiously.”

The MDC accuses Mugabe of withholding the results to tamper with the outcome and has said it will go back to court to oppose the ZEC’s announced plans for a partial recount of the vote, claiming a recount can only be requested after the results are announced.

The ZEC said Sunday it would recount votes cast in last month’s combined presidential, parliamentary and local elections in 23 of 210 constituencies - mainly at the instigation of Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party.

The party was defeated by the MDC in the election to the lower house of parliament. If it wins back nine seats in the recount Zanu-PF will have its majority back.

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