The High Court in Zimbabwe Tuesday ruled an opposition petition demanding the release of the results of a presidential vote was urgent , and began hearing the case.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party last Friday filed an urgent appli cation in the High Court to compel the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to publish results of the 29 March presidential election.
Ten days after the elections, the results of the poll are unknown, with ZEC insisting it was still counting and verifying the ballots.
The MDC court petition had, until now, been bogged down in legal squabbling between the opposing sides over the High Court’s competency to hear the petition and its urgency.
On Monday, Judge Tendai Uchena ruled the court had jurisdiction over the case, saying he would Tuesday decide whether or not it should be heard on an urgent basis.
Tuesday’s ruling is a blow to President Robert Mugabe, who had sought a delay in the release of the poll results until suspected irregularities his party had discovered had been probed.
Uchena immediately began hearing the case Tuesday, after making the ruling on its urgency. The MDC, which claims victory, said the result of the vote were known but were being deliberately withheld.
On the other hand, Mugabe said the opposition party bribed election officials to cheat him, and that the poll results should be withheld until thorough investigations were carried out.
The stand off has led to political tensions. Meanwhile, MDC has continued to insist it won the presidential vote, and that there was no need for a widely talked about run-off.
On Tuesday, MDC said its candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, beat incumbent President Mugabe, and accused ZEC of planning to rig the outcome.
Party Secretary General Tendai Biti said the MDC was concerned by delays in announcing the result of the vote, which party claimed Tsvangirai won by 50.3 percen t to avoid a run-off. “We convincingly won this election; there cannot be a run-off.
ZEC wants to fix the result to suit the run-off matrix,” he said. “Even in India where several millions of people vote, results would be out in a matter of hours,” he added. Panapress.