Zimbabwe’s Tsvangirai Asks Constitutional Court to Delay Vote

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai asked the Constitutional Court to delay elections in the southern African nation, according to papers filed yesterday at the tribunal.

Tsvangirai, who leads the main faction of the Movement for Democratic Change, and other opponents of President Robert Mugabe say there’s not enough time to finish voter registration and the nomination of potential lawmakers before the vote, which is scheduled for July 31. Southern African leaders also called for a delay at a June 15 meeting.

“I respectfully emphasize the need to prevent a legitimacy deficit which would plunge the country into further uncertainty,” Tsvangirai said in his submission to the court. “There have been electoral disputes since 2000 where outcomes have contested largely because of the legal and political environment in which they are held.”

Mugabe set the date for presidential and parliamentary elections after a Constitutional Court ruling in May that they be held no later than the end of July.

The MDC has shared power with Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party since the Southern African Development Community brokered an agreement following a March 2009 vote, which the 15-nation group said wasn’t free and fair.

While the MDC won the parliamentary elections, Tsvangirai withdrew from a presidential run-off ballot in June 2008, citing the death of more than 200 MDC supporters and assaults on 3,000 party members by Zanu-PF loyalists in the party militia and the security forces.

The MDC says Mugabe must end abuses by the police and military, and allow equal access to state-owned media under the terms of SADC’s charter for the country.

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