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Zimbabwe Opposition Leader Continues to Challenge Election Results

Zimbabwe's opposition leader has gone to court to try and force authorities to move forward with his legal challenge to President Robert Mugabe's election victory a year ago.

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Friday filed papers in the High Court demanding that his legal challenge to the 2002 presidential elections begin.

The presidential election took place in March of last year. The opposition said the election was seriously flawed and, as the law required, filed a legal challenge 90 days after the results were announced.

In his petition on Friday, Mr. Tsvangirai accuses state lawyers of failing to comply with court rules. He says, among other things, the state still refuses to provide ballot papers and boxes from the disputed election.

He also says a pre-trial conference held last September did not lead to a trial date and no judge has yet been assigned to the case. Mr. Tsvangirai says all of these breaches of procedure are illegal.

Last week, Mr. Mugabe and the presidents of three African countries asked Mr. Tsvangirai to drop his election challenge to facilitate peace talk between the ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition party.

Mr. Mugabe said he would not talk to Mr. Tsvangirai unless he took the step. But the opposition leader responded that he would not withdraw the challenge unless an infrastructure was agreed for a transitional authority leading to fresh elections in Zimbabwe.

In his petition Mr. Tsvangirai, who lost the election by 15 percent of the vote, said he would object to a judge presiding over the case who was also a beneficiary of Zimbabwe's controversial land reform program.

Mr. Tsvangirai said any judge who had been given a farm by Mr. Mugabe's administration would be biased against him.

One of the beneficiaries of Mr. Mugabe's land reform program is the second most important legal figure in Zimbabwe, the president of the High Court, Judge Paddington Garwe. He would normally hear a case of this importance.

If Mr. Tsvangirai's application is granted, the trial will have to begin seven days later.