Zimbabwe's MDC drops Robert Mugabe election challenge

MDC supporters The MDC has condemned the election as a "farce"

Zimbabwe's MDC party has dropped its legal challenge to President Robert Mugabe's re-election, saying it could not get a fair hearing.

It had filed a separate case seeking access to full details of the results from the electoral commission.

But the High Court has delayed judgement in the 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.

But MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said that, without the extra information, the challenge "was going to be a mockery of justice", reports the AFP news agency.

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"

The 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.

Allies of President Mugabe have dismissed the allegations and accused Mr Tsvangirai of being a bad loser.

Regional heavyweight, South Africa's President Jacob Zuma has urged the MDC leader to accept defeat.

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