Zimbabwe's High Court of Justice has annulled the candidacy of an ally of former president Robert Mugabe in the presidential election scheduled for August, his electoral adviser announced on Wednesday.
Savior Kasukuwere, 52, a former minister and former senior member of the ruling Zanu-PF party, left the country when Mr Mugabe was ousted in a government-backed coup in 2017.
Planning to return from neighbouring South Africa and run as an independent candidate, he is one of eleven candidates whose nomination papers have been accepted by the electoral commission for the 23 August poll.
But the Harare High Court ruled that the procedure had been conducted in "violation of the constitutional provisions relating to the qualifications of a presidential candidate", Jacqueline Sande, Mr. Kasukuwere's electoral adviser, told AFP.
The court's decision came after a Zimbabwean voter argued that Mr. Kasukuwere was ineligible on the grounds that he had been living outside Zimbabwe for more than 18 months.
The court annulled Mr. Kasukuwere's candidacy and ordered the electoral commission not to put his name on the ballot papers.
"This judgment is wrong", said Ms Sande, adding that an appeal had been lodged.
Critics have accused the government of using the courts to target opposition politicians as the country prepares to go to the polls.
A lower court this weekend upheld a police ban on a rally at which the largest opposition grouping, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), was due to launch a much-anticipated election manifesto.
The CCC said that at least a dozen of their rallies had been banned in the past week.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeded Robert Mugabe, an independence hero who remained in power for 37 years thanks to a coup, in 2017. He was elected president the following year by a narrow margin (50.8%) after an election marked by violence.
His main rival in the presidential and legislative elections on 23 August will be Nelson Chamisa, a 45-year-old lawyer and pastor.