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Zimbabwe election results to be challenged in court

The results of Zimbabwe's presidential election are being challenged by the opposition party. The vote in late July was the first election since the end of former president Robert Mugabe's 37-year rule, and it was supposed to signal a move toward stability. Instead, Emmerson Mnangagwa secured a narrow victory with just 50.8 percent of the vote -- prompting protests and violence.

CBS News foreign correspondent Debora Patta reports that Mnangagwa's inauguration has been postponed while the election results are being challenged. The international community remains skeptical of the outcome.

"Here in Europe, the European Union Observer Mission says that while voting was relatively peaceful on election day, they're very concerned about the unlevel political playing field in the runup to the election," Patta said. "They will only submit their final report at the end of September once all the legal challenges have been heard, and they still have to make a final declaration as to whether in fact this election was free and fair."

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Emmerson Mnangagwa casts his ballot at Sherwood Primary School in Kwekwe on July 30, 2018, during general elections.

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Arrests of high-profile opposition leaders are adding fuel to the fire. Zimbabwe's former Finance Minister Tendai Biti was accused of inciting violence and tried to flee, but was caught and arrested. Patta spoke to Biti about the ordeal.

"He told me he thought they were actually going to kill him," Patta said. "He's in a terrible emotional state and ... the country's being moved from unstable, he said, to something more dangerous. In fact, he said in recent years it was actually better -- can you believe it -- under former President Robert Mugabe, because he says now they're simply dealing with thugs and it's become very frightening."

The U.S. has made it clear the result of the election is not acceptable. President Trump signed into law the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment Act, or ZDERA, effectively extending sanctions on the country.

One problem of the election is it highlights a dilemma that Africa's first-generation liberation movements -- which still dominate southern African politics -- are stuck with, she said. "They want to adhere to Democratic standards, not necessarily because it's the right thing to do, but because they want the legitimacy, they want the funding, they want the diplomatic recognition that goes with it. But of course they don't want to lose power," Patta said.

The legal challenge will be heard next week. Patta says the court has three options: Throw out the case, declare a new winner or call for a new election.