Zimbabwe’s opposition faced a midnight deadline on Friday to mount a court challenge to the results of presidential elections marked by allegations of fraud and followed by a government crackdown.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) alleges that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s slender victory in Zimbabwe’s first post-Mugabe election was rigged.
Mnangagwa, who is seeking to reverse Zimbabwe’s economic isolation and attract desperately needed foreign investment, had vowed the elections would turn a page on Robert Mugabe’s repressive 37-year rule.
International monitors largely praised the conduct of the election itself, although EU observers said that Mnangagwa, a former Mugabe ally, benefitted from an “un-level playing field” and some voter intimidation.
Mnangagwa of the ruling Zanu-PF party won the presidential race with 50.8% of the vote — just enough to avoid a run-off against the MDC’s Nelson Chamisa, who scored 44.3%.
Chamisa has called the election results as “falsified and inflated” to ensure Mnangagwa won.
The MDC must lodge its appeal at the Constitutional Court by the end of Friday — seven days after the results were announced.
A court clerk told AFP that the MDC had until midnight (2200 GMT), although the court closes at for in the afternoon.
MDC spokesperson was not immediately available to comment, but party lawyer Thanbani Mpofu last week said that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s figures “grossly, mathematically fail totally”.
He said the party had evidence “for the purposes, not just of mounting a credible and sustainable challenge, but that will yield a vacation of the entire process.”