Zimbabwe court postpones hearing on lawsuit to force election results release

[JURIST] The Harare High Court on Saturday postponed a hearing on a lawsuit [JURIST report] seeking to compel the country's Electoral Commission [official website] to release the results of last Saturday's elections [JURIST report] after lawyers for Zimbabwean opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) [party website] were barred from entering the court. Armed police blocked the entrance to the court and forced journalists to leave the area. The commission has said that the ruling Zanu-PF party lost the majority in the Parliament, but has not yet announced a winner in the presidential election. Independent observers say that opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai [BBC profile] won the most votes but not enough to win the election outright. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and his Zanu-PF party Friday agreed to a runoff election with Tsvangirai. Saturday's court hearing was postponed until noon on Sunday.

On Thursday, Zimbabwean security forces detained journalists [CPJ press release; JURIST report] working for the New York Times and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and raided offices belonging to opposition candidates in what some see as indications that Mugabe may refuse to relinquish power if he is found to have lost last week's general election. Opposition parties allege that the government rigged the country's local, senate, assembly and presidential elections. Mugabe's administration has denied any improper delays in the vote count, with Electoral Commission officials attributing the lag to the task of tallying all the results together for the first time in the country's history. Reuters has more. AP has additional coverage.

 

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