Harare – A decision by Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party to drop a legal challenge to the presidential election victory of Robert Mugabe has cleared the way for his inauguration for another five-year term.
Mugabe was declared the winner of the July 31 election with 61% of the vote, but the inauguration was frozen after Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC – who got 34% – challenged the result.
Tsvangirai accused the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of rigging the poll in favour of Mugabe, who has governed the country since independence in 1980. The MDC dropped its challenge yesterday, saying it would not get a fair hearing in the case.
“Now the swearing in of the president can go ahead. There is no way Tsvangirai can mount another challenge as he can only do that within seven days of the announcement of the results,” lawyer Jonathan Samkange said today.
Spokesperson Rugare Gumbo of Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party said: “It was inevitable that he would not go ahead with his court challenge.
He was wasting his time. This paves the way for our leader to be inaugurated and jump into the cockpit to rescue the country.
We can only celebrate when the president is in charge alone,” said Sam Chamunovava at the regional Zanu-PF headquarters in Harare.
MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora denied assertions by Zanu-PF that Tsvangirai’s withdrawal had handed legitimacy to Mugabe’s re-election.
“We had too many hurdles to jump. We cannot recognise a stolen election,” added Mwonzora, a veteran lawyer.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai formed a power-sharing government after the disputed election of 2008, which was marred by violence. But the vote on July 31 gave Zanu-PF a parliamentary majority of more than two-thirds, with 160 of the 210 seats.
On Saturday, police increased their presence on the streets of Harare, with all roads to the parliament building closed.
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