17 Aug 2013

Zimbabwe opposition drops Mugabe election challenge

9:33 pm on 17 August 2013

Zimbabwe's main opposition party has withdrawn its legal challenge against the re-election of president Robert Mugabe last month.

The Movement for Democratic Change said it doubted it would get a fair hearing, and accused election officials of withholding crucial evidence.

It had filed a separate legal case seeking access to details of the results from the electoral commission, but the High Court has delayed judgement in that case.

The MDC says that without information such as the number of people not on the voters' roll who voted, it cannot prove that the elections were fraudulent.

The arguments in the MDC's legal challenge were due to begin on Saturday.

The BBC reports withdrawal of its challenge paves the way for Mr Mugabe, 89, to be inaugurated for another five-year term.

He has governed Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.

Mr Mugabe won with 61% of the presidential vote against 34% for MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who called the 31 July election a "huge farce".

The MDC has said that more than a million voters were prevented from casting their ballots - mainly in urban areas considered to be its strongholds.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, which had 7,000 observers around the country, has backed up these allegations.

But the African Union has said that any irregularities were not enough to overturn the margin of victory.