Zimbabwe’s Tsvangirai Drops Suit to Have Election Overturned

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change, withdrew a lawsuit aimed at overturning the outcome of last month’s elections, saying the Constitutional Court failed to guarantee a fair hearing.

President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled the southern African nation for the past 33 years, won another five-year term in the July 31 election, while his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front captured a two-thirds parliamentary majority. The MDC says ZANU-PF used the security forces to control the voting process and the electoral roll was manipulated to disenfranchise thousands of its supporters.

While African observers praised the election, the U.S., U.K., European Union and domestic observers said irregularities had compromised its credibility. In an Aug. 12 speech in Harare, Mugabe said critics of his victory can “go hang.”

“The election petition has been withdrawn,” Douglas Mwonzora, a spokesman for Tsvangirai, the country’s outgoing prime minister, said in an interview today. “The trial was going to be a mockery of justice.”

‘Far From Resolved’

In a filing with the Constitutional Court, Tsvangirai said the opposing side’s failure to deliver essential documents for the case, as well as “very wide adverse pretrial publicity which has been championed by the state media” have made it useless to pursue his legal challenge.

The “situation is far from resolved and on my part as the leader of my political party I shall endeavor to use all democratic means to bring about the successful resolution of this issue,” Tsvangirai said in today’s filing.

ZANU-PF lost its parliamentary majority in the last elections in 2008, while Mugabe retained the presidency after Tsvangirai pulled out of a run-off vote due to concerns about violence directed against his supporters. Regional mediators then forced Mugabe, 89, and two factions of the MDC into a unity government.

Mugabe can now be sworn in as president, Mwonzora said.

The president, arriving today in Malawi for a summit of southern African leaders, said he rejects objections to the election by the U.S. and U.K.

“The problem is the West wants to think for us and take decisions for us and even direct us as to which direction they want us to go,” he said at the airport in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe. “I have nothing to do with the British, nothing to do with the Americans.”

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