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Zimbabwe rejects election-fix case

Zimbabwe's highest court has dismissed a legal challenge claiming the July 31 elections won by president Robert Mugabe were marred by fraud.

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, head of the Constitutional Court, dismissed the challenge from Zimbabwe's main opposition party and said the court found that the elections had been free and fair. The ruling clears the way for Mr Mugabe's inauguration on Thursday.

Mr Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, appoints the nation's judges and they have frequently ruled in his favour in the past decade of political and economic turmoil.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai had sought to withdraw his legal challenge, saying the state refused to hand over polling data that he needed as evidence. But the court considered the challenge anyway.

Mr Tsvangirai is the outgoing prime minister in a shaky coalition with Mr Mugabe forged by regional mediators after the last violent and disputed elections in 2008.

He alleged up to a million eligible voters of the 6.4 million registered electors were unable to cast their ballots.

In a separate ruling the lower Electoral Court dismissed Mr Tsvangirai's demands for poll data saying the application was not filed in reasonable time to allow for the opening of more than 9,000 ballot boxes countrywide and to collate other details.

He argued the voters' lists were not made available to candidates even before July 31 as required under voting laws and official tallies were flawed.

In the main vote-rigging challenge, Mr Justice Chidyausiku said the election was held in accordance with electoral and constitutional laws in Zimbabwe. Dismissing Tsvangirai's case, he said: "Robert Mugabe is duly elected the president of Zimbabwe."

Tsvangirai's chief party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said the party was not surprised. "It was predetermined. We don't recognise this election and we will continue fighting for justice in this country," he said.

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