Zimbabwe’s Tsvangirai Rejects Election Date for July 31

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s decision to set the election date for July 31 is “unlawful and unconstitutional,” Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said.

Presidential and parliamentary elections will held on July 31, with a runoff if necessary on Sept. 11, Mugabe said today in the country’s official Government Gazette. The proclamation was made to comply with a court-set deadline, Mugabe said in a separate letter to Tsvangirai.

“I cannot and will not accept this,” Tsvangirai told reporters in Harare today.

Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change party share power under a 2009 agreement brokered by a regional political bloc following disputed elections.

The Constitutional Court on May 31 ruled that Mugabe must set elections by the end of July. Leaders from the 15-nation Southern African Development Community are scheduled to meet in Mozambique on June 15 to discuss Zimbabwe’s elections.

“SADC has the responsibility of ensuring that they call the president to order,” Tsvangirai said. “The government has no money for elections.”

Tsvangirai said he’s instructed lawyers to file an urgent court application to oppose Mugabe’s decision.

No Time

Zimbabwe can’t comply with the court’s ruling without violating the constitution, David Coltart, a Zimbabwean senator and secretary for legal affairs for the MDC, said on June 6. There isn’t enough time to register voters and nominate candidates for Parliament 30 days before the vote as the constitution stipulates, he said.

There are “too few days between now and July 31 to meet constitutional requirements,” Tsvangirai said in a separate phone interview today.

SADC leaders must address “laws that impact on how elections are held, access to the media and the behavior of police and military forces,” he said. “Without reforms, Zimbabwe is heading to another contested, predatory and illegitimate election.”

The Constitutional Court ruling is being challenged by Nixon Nyikadzino, a manager at the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a grouping of human rights and legal activists.


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