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Zimbabwe delays Mnangagwa inauguration

August 10, 2018

The move comes amid ongoing uncertainty following the country's July 30 vote. Though initially peaceful, the election was quickly challenged. Vote count delays and a government crackdown have raised concerns.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe's president-elect
Image: Getty Images/D. Kitwood

Speaking in Harare on Friday, Zimbabwean Justice Minister Ziyambe Ziyambe announced that the inauguration of Emerson Mnangagwa as the country's next president would not be held on Sunday as scheduled.

The announcement came after opposition leader Nelson Chamisa filed a court challenge to the result of Zimbabwe's July 30 presidential election. Chamisa tweeted: "Our legal team successfully filed our court papers. We have a good case and cause!"

Read more: Zimbabwe vote: Old guard vs. new

Chamisa, who is the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), claims the election was rigged and that he won 56 percent of the vote, making him president. The Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) took several days before announcing the final vote count, prompting accusations that it had done so in order for Mnangagwa's ruling ZANU-PF to tamper with the result. The ZEC presented its final tally on August 3, declaring that Mnangagwa had won the ballot with 50.8 percent of the vote to Chamisa's 44.3 percent.

Clashes in Zimbabwe

Harsh crackdown

In the time between the vote and the declaration of a winner, Zimbabwe was gripped by violence as seven opposition supporters were killed by government security forces during a harsh crackdown in the streets of the capital, Harare.

International observers called the vote free but not fair and condemned the violence that followed it. Chamisa has called the vote "fraudulent, illegal and illegitimate." On Thursday, senior opposition politician Tendai Biti was charged with inciting violence and declaring unofficial election results. Biti, who was released after he was charged, announced Chamisa the winner before the ZEC made the official vote count public.

The July election was the first since strongman Robert Mugabe — who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years — was forced to step down last November under pressure from the military. Emerson Mnangagwa was a longtime associate and enforcer for Mugabe. He was given the nickname "the Crocodile" for his patient yet ruthless approach to dealing with Mugabe's political opponents.

The court has 14 days to hand down a ruling in the case. 

js/rc (AP, dpa)