Zimbabwe's MDC challenges Robert Mugabe election victory
Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has filed a legal challenge to Robert Mugabe's victory in last week's presidential elections.
The electoral petition seeks an order for the result to be declared null and void and a new election to be called within 60 days.
The MDC's 15 grounds include alleged bribery, abuse of "assisted voting" and manipulation of the electoral roll.
Mr Mugabe, 89, won with 61% of the presidential vote.
His Zanu-PF party gained a parliamentary majority of more than two-thirds, with 160 seats against 49 for the MDC.
The MDC legal team carried huge piles of papers into the court but some wonder if their petition will reap any legal or political dividends.
The petition is premised on 15 grounds that the lawyers hope will put the judiciary under the spotlight.
The MDC says it has evidence of bribery, that the voters' roll was manipulated and illegally delivered late, that many thousands of people were disenfranchised during the voter-registration exercise and many more were turned away at the polls.
MDC spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora says the legal route was the only available remedy to the disputed poll. Perhaps it is more than that.
The MDC has always questioned the independence of the judiciary and may suspect that the court is unlikely to order a rerun. But it still wants its evidence to play out in court, and ultimately in public, to prove its claims that the poll was a farce.
Should it lose the legal case, it hopes that at least the court of public opinion will be on its side.
The MDC is to file a complaint on the parliamentary results at a later date, reports the BBC's Brian Hungwe in the capital Harare.
With a two-thirds majority, Zanu-PF is able to amend the constitution, potentially restoring presidential powers which were reduced earlier this year.'Turned away'
Lawyers for the MDC, which filed its petition with the country's constitutional court, told the BBC they had "strong evidence of electoral irregularities".
They said a shockingly high number of people were unable to vote at the polls, and that food and other bribes were used to persuade voters to back Mr Mugabe, our correspondent says.
"The Movement of Democratic Change has filed its election petition... what we seek is that this election be declared null and void in terms of section 93 of the constitution of Zimbabwe," said MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora.
The challenge comes a day after Zimbabwe's electoral commission said nearly 305,000 voters had been turned away from polling stations on election day. The MDC says the true number is about 900,000.
Mr Mugabe's margin of victory was some 940,000 votes.
A week after the election, Mr Mugabe dismissed criticism of the polls and lashed out at Western countries for their response.
Zimbabwe's nine-member constitutional court has up to 14 days to respond to the legal challenge.
Correspondents say some of the judges are believed to be Mugabe loyalists.
The MDC says it is "aware" of this, and as a result it will make its appeal public and even produce evidence of "bribed goods", the BBC's Mark Lowen reports from Johannesburg.'Disenfranchised'
If the court upholds the results, Mr Mugabe must be sworn in within 48 hours of the ruling.
Opposition's main complaints
- Bribery - Village leaders were reportedly given food and kitchenware to persuade people to vote for Zanu-PF
- Manipulation of voter roll - Voters said to have had most trouble registering in urban areas, where the MDC is strongest. More than a million names allegedly duplicates or dead people
- Voters turned away - The MDC says 900,000 people were turned away from polling stations, mainly in the capital
- Intimidation - There were reports of traditional leaders threatening villagers if they voted for MDC
- Abuse of assisted voting - The MDC claims literate people were told to say they were illiterate so that they could be "assisted by Zanu-PF people"
"We have done the best that we can under the circumstances, presented the matter before the court, and it is now up to the court to determine how strong the case is," said MDC lawyer Chris Mhike.
African and regional monitors praised the poll for being peaceful but noted some irregularities. Western observers were not invited to witness the 31 July vote.
But a local observer group, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) and its network of 7,000 observers, has said that about one million voters - mainly in urban areas - were "systematically disenfranchised" by being omitted from the voters' roll or turned away.
The electoral roll has come in for criticism for having duplicate names and the names of dead Zimbabweans.
The MDC says 900,000 people were turned away from polling stations - mostly in the capital where the MDC's vote is strong - and another 300,000 people were coerced through "assisted voting".
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai rejected the vote as fraudulent and said his party would boycott government institutions.
The Zanu-PF and the MDC have been in a coalition since 2009, after the last election sparked widespread violence.