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Court Rules Against Zimbabwe Government in Voter Registration Case

A Zimbabwe High Court judge has ordered the police not to interfere with the main opposition party's voter registration verification efforts.

In his ruling in the High Court in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city, Judge Maphios Cheda authorized a voter roll analysis and verification process launched by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

The opposition group appealed to the court after the arrest of some of its members in Bulawayo for conducting door-to-door verification of people on the voters' register.

The opposition's spokesperson for legal affairs, David Coltart, says the checks revealed that the details of some voters had been tampered with. This, he said, could result in them being stopped from voting.

The court's ruling comes after the period allowed by the government for public voters roll inspection ended. But Mr. Coltart said it was an important development in that it exposes how flawed the voters roll is.

Last August, the opposition movement said it would not participate in the elections, in part because of the state of the voters' roll. But earlier this month, the party announced it would participate in the March elections, despite continuing concern that they may not be free and fair.

Mr. Coltart said, far from being a purely academic exercise, the information uncovered inspecting the voters' rolls will be used to appeal against a victory of the ruling ZANU-PF party, if there is what he called massive rigging.

He also said, now that the opposition party has been given the green light by the courts, the verification efforts would continue, and his party would also use them as an opportunity to campaign.