Crowds gathered around screens outside Zimbabwe’s top court on Wednesday to watch a legal showdown challenging President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s July 30 election victory, according to Reuters.
Many more around the country were glued to live television coverage of the Constitutional Court hearing to consider opposition leader Nelson Chamisa’s petition that the vote was flawed and should be overturned.
Riot police blocked roads leading to the court in the capital Harare and vehicles carrying water cannon were parked nearby.
Chamisa, 40, says the first vote since the overthrow of Robert Mugabe in November was rigged by the electoral commission. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and Mnangagwa say there was no foul play.
The nine judges could throw the case out, declare a new winner or order a fresh election within 60 days.
Wednesday’s hearing has been cast as a major test of the independence of the highest court, whose verdict is final.
Mnangagwa and Chamisa were not at the hearing in person but their lawyers and the ZEC’s faced off in a packed courtroom.
Chamisa’s lead lawyer Thabani Mpofu argued that presidential election results announced by the ZEC were different to those it had submitted in its court papers.
Mpofu said that at the time of the election, the commission had inflated Mnangagwa’s figures by 69,000 votes, urging the court to invalidate the results and trigger a runoff vote.
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