Zimbabwe’s main opposition party has filed a legal challenge to the results of the country’s first election without Robert Mugabe on the ballot.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is alleging irregularities and calling for a fresh vote or for their candidate Nelson Chamisa to be declared the winner.
The filing brings more uncertainty to a country that had hoped the peaceful vote would begin a new era but has been rocked by scenes of military in the streets and opposition supporters harassed and beaten.
Lawyers for the MDC arrived at court less than an hour before the deadline to submit papers. “We have a good case and cause!” Mr Chamisa said on Twitter.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has said President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the ruling ZANU-PF party won the July 30 election, with the president receiving 50.8% of the vote and Mr Chamisa receiving 44.3%.
The court filing delays the inauguration that the government had been planning for Sunday. The court now has 14 days to rule.
“We have managed to place before the courts all the mathematical and statistical irregularities,” lawyer Thabani Mpofu told journalists as they emerged from the courthouse. A copy of the filing was not immediately available.
The opposition has claimed since shortly after the election that the vote was rigged but withheld evidence for the court challenge.
A number of grassroots groups and NGOs that fanned out across the country have released reports questioning high turnout in some areas, striking differences in the number of voters for president and parliamentary seats in some cases and other concerns.
Mr Mnangagwa, an ex-vice president and Mr Mugabe’s long-time confidant and enforcer, says he wants to make Zimbabwe more open and democratic.
Mr Mugabe resigned in November after a military takeover, and many Zimbabweans were euphoric at his departure after decades of economic and political paralysis.
Two days after the election, however, soldiers opened fire during opposition protests in the capital, Harare, with six people killed.
Foreign governments, Western election observers and human rights activists have expressed concern about the “excessive” force and the reports of opposition supporters being targeted by security forces since then.