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Zimbabwe Opposition Sues Over Vote

April 13, 2002

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) _ Opposition lawyers on Friday challenged President Robert Mugabe’s declared victory in last month’s presidential elections, demanding that the High Court nullify the results.

No date was set for a hearing on the petition, lawyer Bryant Elliot said.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said Thursday his party had compiled irrefutable evidence of massive vote rigging in the March 9-11 poll.

The opposition has argued that a secret, supplemental voter registration list, drawn up mainly in ruling party strongholds after a voter registration deadline, was illegal.

The opposition also says it found widespread disparities in two different sets of official voting figures. The government says Mugabe won the election with 56 percent of valid votes cast to 42 percent for Tsvangirai.

Several independent observer groups have said the elections were deeply flawed. The United States condemned the vote and the Commonwealth of Britain and its former colonies suspended Zimbabwe for a year.

Mugabe, 78, led the nation to independence from Britain in 1980 and faced little dissent until recent years, when the nation’s economy collapsed and political violence erupted.

At least 150 people have died in political violence in the past two years and tens of thousands have been driven from their homes.

The independent Human Right Forum, a coalition of 11 independent church and rights groups, said in a statement Friday that reprisal violence against government opponents reached an ``unspeakable magnitude″ after the poll.

Of 880 documented incidents of assaults and torture this year, 205, occurred in a six-day period after the election, the forum said.

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