Zimbabwe's opposition MDC on Friday withdrew a court challenge against President Robert Mugabe's re-election through a vote the party had denounced as fraudulent, saying it was being denied crucial evidence by election officials.
Mugabe (89) and his Zanu-PF party were declared winners of the July 31 election but the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by outgoing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had filed a motion for the Constitutional Court to overturn the result.
A hearing on the MDC challenge, which had alleged widespread vote-rigging and intimidation by Zanu-PF, had been planned for Saturday.
"I can confirm that we have withdrawn the presidential election petition. There are a number of reasons, including the failure by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to release critical evidence in this matter," MDC spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said.
End of hope
The decision appeared to end any hope of further action by MDC through the courts, which Tsangirai's party have said are dominated by Zanu-PF along with other state institutions in the southern African nation that was formerly known as Rhodesia.
Mugabe, Africa's oldest leader, who has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980, this week told critics of his re-election to "go hang", making clear he would brook no questioning of his disputed victory either from the West or his MDC rival.
Pointing to flaws in the July 31 vote cited by domestic observers, Western governments – especially the United States – have questioned the credibility of the election outcome and are considering whether to prolong sanctions against Mugabe.
But Mugabe is drawing comfort from African election observers who endorsed the elections as largely free and orderly and have urged Zimbabweans to move on peacefully.
Western observers were barred from observing the vote. – Reuters