Reuters International

Zambia's President Edgar Lungu attends a signing ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, February 8, 2016. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo

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LUSAKA (Reuters) - Zambia's Constitutional Court ruled early on Saturday that a challenge to President Edgar Lungu's re-election at the helm of Africa's second-largest copper producer would be extended into next week to give the opposition more side to present its case.

The court had two weeks to decide on the challenge filed by on Aug. 19 by opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema, who claims the violence-marred election in the southern African nation was rigged.

But the president of the Constitutional Court Hildah Chibomba granted the extra time after lawyers for the opposition quit the case and Hichilema claimed the law required that his side be represented properly.

"We shall allow the petitioners to engage lawyers to represent them and this matter stands adjourned up to Monday. Each party shall be given two days to present their case," Chibomba said.

Lungu's lawyers had earlier opposed the extension, saying the matter should be concluded within 14 days. But they will have an opportunity to respond to the opposition, which will present its case first on Monday.

Lungu's inauguration has been postponed because a rule introduced in January says the winner of a presidential vote cannot be sworn in if the vote is contested in a court.

(Reporting by Chris Mfula; Writing by Ed Stoddard; Editing by Tom Brown)

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