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The Latest US-based election observers criticize Zimbabwe

HARARE, Zimbabwe — The Latest on Zimbabwe’s presidential election (all times local):

6:15 p.m.

A U.S.-based election observer mission has issued a critical new statement on Zimbabwe, saying the country “has not yet demonstrated that it has established a tolerant, democratic culture” that allows the opposition to be treated fairly and people to vote freely.

The statement by the joint mission of the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute comes a day after Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court upheld President Emmerson Mnanaggwa’s narrow election victory. His inauguration is on Sunday.

This was the first time in nearly two decades that Western observers were invited as Mnangagwa seeks a credible election for the lifting of international sanctions.

An earlier joint statement by several observers criticized the “excessive” use of force by security forces after the peaceful vote.

The joint IRI-NDI mission says its final election report is yet to come.

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12:30 p.m.

Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader says he respectfully rejects the court ruling upholding President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s narrow election win and he calls the inauguration planned for Sunday “false.”

Nelson Chamisa spoke a day after the Constitutional Court unanimously rejected opposition claims of vote-rigging and said it did not bring “sufficient and credible evidence.”

Chamisa now says “we have the right to peaceful protest” and that other routes will be pursued.

He also says the opposition had reached out to Mnangagwa for dialogue but the president did not respond. Mnangagwa shortly after the ruling said on Twitter to Chamisa that “my door is open and my arms are outstretched.”

Last month’s election was seen as a chance to move on from Robert Mugabe’s repressive 37-year-rule. Now Chamisa alleges “a new persecution.”