Southern African Leaders Urge Zimbabwe to Postpone July Election

Southern African leaders urged Zimbabwe to postpone elections scheduled for next month until conditions are created for the vote to be free and fair.

The government should request that the country’s Constitutional Court “seek more time beyond the July 31 deadline for holding elections,” Tomas Salamao, secretary-general of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community, told reporters after a summit today in Maputo, the Mozambican capital.

“The summit urged the three parties in the government to undertake immediate measures to create a conducive environment for holding peaceful, credible and free and fair elections,” he said.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on June 13 announced that elections in the southern African nation will be held July 31. The proclamation was made to comply with a deadline set by the Constitutional Court, he said. Opponents of Mugabe, including Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change party, say the time-frame isn’t sufficient to complete voter registration and the nomination of potential lawmakers.

Tsvangirai has instructed lawyers to file an urgent court application to oppose the decision, which he said was “unlawful and unconstitutional.”

Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and Tsvangirai’s party have shared power since disputed elections in 2008. Mugabe, 89, has been president of Zimbabwe since December 1987.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti said yesterday the country, which has the world’s second-biggest platinum and chrome reserves, doesn’t have enough money to fund elections.

Salamao said the SADC leaders didn’t discuss financing for the vote at today’s meeting.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.