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Zimbabwe's Highest Court Upholds Election

Zimbabwe's highest court has ruled the July 31 election was free and fair, a move that clears the way for President Robert Mugabe's inauguration on Thursday.

The constitutional court on Tuesday dismissed a challenge from the main opposition MDC party of outgoing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mr. Tsvangirai said massive fraud had made the polling a "farce."

The court went ahead and reviewed his allegations even though last week Mr. Tsvangirai withdrew his challenge, saying he would not get a fair hearing.

On Tuesday, legal officials in Zimbabwe told VOA a presiding judge had recommended Mr. Tsvangirai's lawyers be arrested for using "contemptuous" language in an affidavit that sought to require the electoral commission to release documentation.

Election results gave Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF a landslide victory, setting the stage from him to extend his 33 years in power by another five years.

In a VOA interview, African Union Commission chairman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said it was obvious that Mr. Mugabe would emerge as the victor even before polling began.

"It was clear they were going to win before the elections took place. But I can say that because AU observers were there from, they arrived in Zimbabwe on the 14th of June, we started our work on the 15th of June."

Dlamini-Zuma says AU observers were on hand six weeks before the election took place.

She also says the voting irregularities were not widespread enough to have changed the outcome.

"There maybe have been technical issues that were mentioned. There is no election that is perfect. I have not even seen it even across the Atlantic, but there is nothing of those technical issues in our view that could have changed the results."

Western powers have raised concerns about the vote. On Monday, the United States rejected a call by southern African leaders to lift economic sanctions against Mr. Mugabe and his aides.

A State Department spokeswoman said the "targeted" U.S. sanctions would remain in force as long as "serious flaws" persist in Zimbabwe's electoral process.

The European Union joined Washington in expressing concern about voting irregularities.

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