Zimbabwe court claims jurisdiction over lawsuit to force election results release

[JURIST] A High Court judge in Harare said Monday that the court has jurisdiction to hear a lawsuit seeking a court order to compel the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission (ZEC) to immediately release the results [JURIST report] of the nation's March 29 presidential elections, but refused to issue an immediate ruling in the case. Instead, the judge scheduled further hearings on Tuesday in the lawsuit [JURIST reports] brought by opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) [party website]. Independent observers say that MDC candidate Morgan Tsvangirai [BBC profile] won more votes than current president Robert Mugabe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], but Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) [party website] party are demanding a recount [JURIST report]. While Zanu-PF has asked the ZEC for a further delay in declaring the results because of "errors and miscalculations" in their compilation, the MDC has characterized the request as a tactic to keep Mugabe in power. Mugabe's administration has denied any improper delays in the vote count, with Electoral Commission officials attributing the lag to the task of tallying all the results together for the first time in the country's history. BBC News has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

The court on Saturday postponed hearing the case [JURIST report] when lawyers for the MDC were barred from entering the court. On Thursday, Zimbabwean security forces detained journalists [CPJ press release; JURIST report] working for the New York Times and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and raided offices belonging to opposition candidates. Some see both as indications that Mugabe may refuse to relinquish power if he is found to have lost the general election. Although the Electoral Commission has already announced that the MDC defeated the ruling ZANU-PF in the parliamentary vote, opposition parties allege that the government rigged the country's local, senate, assembly and presidential elections.

4:11 PM ET - The two foreign journalists detained last week have been released on bail, a lawyer said Monday. The journalists have been accused of reporting illegally, and have been prevented from leaving the country. AP has more.



 

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