Zimbabwe court upholds MDC expulsion

Harare - Zimbabwe's constitutional court on Tuesday upheld the expulsion from parliament last month of 21 opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) members after their party dismissed them following internal squabbling over leadership.

Under Zimbabwe's constitution, if a member of parliament joins or forms another political party, their seat is declared vacant and a fresh election is called within 90 days.

The MDC, which re-elected Morgan Tsvangirai as its leader in November, asked parliament in March to expel former secretary general and finance Minister Tendai Biti and his MDC Renewal group for having left the party.

The move has deepened turmoil in the opposition ranks and is likely to diminish the MDC's voice in parliament, where President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF already has a large majority.

Chief Justice Chidyausiku said the challenge by Biti and his group lacked merit and dismissed the case.

Tsvangirai, who has led the MDC since its formation in 1999, has said his party would boycott June by-elections to replace the lawmakers in protest against Mugabe's refusal to reform electoral practice.

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