A Zimbabwean High Court judge has rejected an opposition petition for the immediate release of last month's presidential election results. The judge said he would give the reasons for throwing out the Movement for Democratic Change's appeal later. From London, Tendai Maphosa has more in this report for VOA.
The ruling by Judge Tendai Uchena comes more than two weeks after general elections were held in Zimbabwe. Last week the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had appealed to the court to force the government appointed electoral commission to release the results of the presidential contest.
The MDC has responded to the ruling by confirming a threatened general strike on Tuesday. Addressing the media in Harare, the party's vice-president Thokozani Khupe put the delay down to the ruling Zanu-PF stuffing ballot boxes to get a favorable result for their candidate President Robert Mugabe. She also questioned the legitimacy of Mr. Mugabe's government.
"The MDC knows the illegitimacy of President Mugabe and his Cabinet following the dissolution of parliament on the 28th of March 2008 and therefore does not accept that there is any legitimate government or substantive president in the country," said Thokozani Khupe. "The national executive council thus resolved to stage a massed stay in."
The MDC claims long-time incumbent President Robert Mugabe lost to its leader and presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai. Mr. Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party and independent observers however say Tsvangirai did not the get required number of votes to claim outright victory. Under Zimbabwean law if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the total vote a second-round run-off is required.
The electoral commission has also announced a re-count for some of the parliamentary results, a move the MDC has vowed to appeal to the courts to block. The opposition party charges that it is an attempt to deprive it of its majority in parliament.
In London, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband reiterated the call for the immediate release of the presidential election poll result.
"There is a unanimous demand in my experience both publicly and privately from the international community which is for the results to be released because we know why there is a delay in the results being released, that is to give time for an alternative to the will of the people to be found," he said.
Zimbabwe boasts of the highest inflation rate in the world, chronic shortages of fuel, basic foodstuffs and power and a collapsing health delivery system.
Mr.Mugabe's critics blame him for presiding over the destruction of an economy once considered second to South Africa in the region. But the president blames Zimbabwe's crisis on economic sanctions imposed by western countries led by former colonial ruler Britain. He accuses the MDC of being used by Britain as a front for the re-colonization of Zimbabwe