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Mugabe Says Zimbabwe's Coalition Government To End in Four Months


Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe says the country's power-sharing government should end with fresh elections next year. It was formed after disputed and violent elections in 2008.

Mr. Mugabe's announcement that he wants elections next year comes amid renewed tension in the 19-month-old unity government.

The power-sharing government was formed after President Mugabe signed a political agreement with his long time rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change.

Mr. Tsvangirai is prime minister in the inclusive government and made a strong statement last week saying that Mr. Mugabe had violated the constitution by unilaterally appointing top public servants.

President Mugabe said that a new constitution could be agreed to early next year, and be followed immediately by fresh elections.

The political agreement states that a referendum on a draft constitution should be held before elections.

Last week, Welshman Ncube, an MDC minister in the inclusive government, said the referendum for a new constitution would be held on June 30 next year.

The constitutional outreach program has not yet been concluded as the parliamentary committee organizing its program says there is no money to complete public meetings in the capital, Harare, and second city Bulawayo.

The last meetings held in the two cities were cut short by violence in which an MDC supporter died.

Mr. Mugabe told youth members of his Zanu PF Thursday that the political agreement has a two-year span and is due to expire in February.

President Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since the country won independence from Britain in 1980.

The political agreement is guaranteed by regional bloc, the Southern African development Community and South AFrica.

Mediators from South Africa met with Mr. Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai in Harare this week.

Political analyst Brian Raftopoulos says that many Zimbabweans fear fresh elections will bring another round of violence.

On Monday, MDC Finance Minister Tendai Biti goes to Zimbabwe's Supreme Court seeking to overturn a High Court order two years ago that ruled that his detention on treason charges was lawful. Biti was arrested during elections in 2008 for predicting that Mr. Tsvangirai would beat Mr. Mugabe in the polls.

During the last elections Mr. Tsvangirai easily beat Mr. Mugabe in the first round of the presidential poll but pulled out of the run-off citing violence against his supporters.

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