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High Court rules MDC petition on results 'urgent'


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HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY ELECTION RESULTS

By Nelson Banya

ZIMBABWE'S
High Court ruled on Tuesday it would treat the opposition's application for the immediate release of presidential election results urgently and began hearing arguments in the case.

Legal proceedings are already in their fourth day and could drag further, delaying the end of a 10-day stalemate that has dashed hopes of a quick answer as to whether President Robert Mugabe lost the March 29 vote or will face a runoff.

Opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he has won the election outright and should be declared president. Mugabe's party is pushing for a further delay in issuing results pending a recount.

"I find that the application is urgent. The case should now proceed," judge Tendai Uchena said of the opposition request.

Zimbabweans, many reduced to misery by the meltdown of their once-prosperous economy, are waiting to see whether the election will end the 28-year-rule of Mugabe or make way for a runoff vote between him and Tsvangirai.

MDC lawyer Alec Muchadeham told the court after the judge's ruling that the matter was urgent and that the High Court had the power to order the release of the results.

"The applicants have a legitimate concern to have the results announced expeditiously. The applicants have a clear right to the results," Muchadeham said.

Tsvangirai accuses Mugabe of planning violence to overturn results of the presidential and parliamentary votes.

Zimbabwe has inflation of more than 100,000 percent -- the highest in the world -- an unemployment rate above 80 percent and chronic shortages of food and fuel. - Reuters
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