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Tsvangirai's MDC challenges Zimbabwe election results

Zimbabwe’s opposition MDC has launched a legal challenge to the results of the country’s recent elections. Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party were declared the winners of both the presidential and parliamentary votes.

Lawyers representing the party of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai filed an appeal with the Constitutional Court in Harare on Friday, challenging the result of the elections in which President Robert Mugabe was returned to power with 61 percent of the vote

This was the third time that Tsvangirai has tried and failed to unseat the 89-year-old Mugabe, who has been in the job since 1987.

"The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has filed its election petition. The prayer we are seeking is that this election be declared null and void and also that a fresh election be held within 60 days," the party's spokesman, Douglas Mwonzora told reporters outside of the courthouse.

He also said the party planned to present the court with evidence of massive irregularities in the voting in the July 31 elections, including the duplication of several hundred thousand names on the voters' lists.

"The person on trial is not the Movement for Democratic Change. The person on trial is Mr. Mugabe and his government," Mwonzora said. "It's also the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and, I dare say, the judicial system of Zimbabwe."

Britain, Zimbabwe's former colonial power, and the United States are among those which have questioned the credibility of the presidential vote and the parliamentary election, in which Mugabe's Zanu-PF party won a two thirds majority.

However, African Union observers declared the polls to have been fair, despite concerns about the electoral roll and some eligible voters being turned away.

The Zimbabwean Electoral Commission conceded on Thursday that more than 300,000 voters had been turned away during the vote and another 207,000 were "assisted voters," who needed help from polling officials to cast their votes. However it said this was not enough to change the result.

The elections marked the end of an uneasy power-sharing arrangement between Zanu-PF and the MDC in which Tsvangirai has served as prime minister under a deal brokered by regional powers following the 2008 polls, in which the MDC had won a majority in parliament.

pfd/dr (AFP, AP, dpa)