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Sunday, 10 December, 2000, 00:36 GMT
Mugabe bans election challenge
Soldiers and opposition supporters
Intimidation led to an unfair poll, says the opposition
By Grant Ferrett in Harare

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has amended the country's electoral law to prevent the opposition from pursuing legal challenges to the results of parliamentary elections held in June.

The amendment, which was published in the official government gazette on Friday, says that, even if corrupt or illegal practices were committed during the poll, the election of sitting members of parliament cannot be overturned.

Robert Mugabe
Mugabe: Legal change in the name of "democracy and stability"
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change was challenging the results in nearly a third of the constituencies contested in the June elections, largely on the grounds of violence and intimidation.

The general elections in June were the bloodiest in Zimbabwe's 20 years of independence.

More than 30 people were killed and an estimated 13,000 fled their homes, the vast majority of them opposition supporters.

Evidence

The violence formed the basis of the legal challenge to the results in 38 constituencies by the MDC.

Had it won just three of those under review, the opposition would have gained a majority of the elected seats in Parliament.

Over the past six months it had gathered a large body of evidence which the High Court was due to begin considering in January.

President Mugabe has brought all that to an abrupt halt. The latest legal change states that in the interests of democracy, peace, security and stability, the Court shall not invalidate the election results even if there have been corrupt or illegal practices.

An opposition spokesman described the move as another clear example of the government's refusal to accept the will of the Zimbabwean people. He said the ruling party knew it would lose many of the legal challenges.

In the absence of achieving change through the courts, the opposition is now likely to reconsider its decision to postpone indefinitely its call for nationwide protests to remove President Mugabe from office.

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17 Jun 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
The politics of fear
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Zimbabwe democracy comes of age
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