News / Africa

Southern African Leaders Urge Zimbabwe to Postpone Election

Botswana President Ian Khama (L) walks alongside Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (R) during a lunch break at the SADC summit in Maputo, June 15, 2013.
Botswana President Ian Khama (L) walks alongside Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (R) during a lunch break at the SADC summit in Maputo, June 15, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Southern African leaders on Saturday told Zimbabwe to ask its courts to extend a July 31 deadline to hold elections, amid high tension between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai over the timing of the vote.

The summit of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) in the Mozambican capital came two days after Mugabe declared the election day, a date immediately rejected by Tsvangirai, his partner in coalition and main political rival.

Mugabe had argued he was following an order from the Constitutional Court to hold the election by the end of July, but Tsvangirai said it was too soon to allow the reforms of the media and security forces required for a free and fair vote.

"The summit acknowledged the ruling of the constitutional court on the election date and it will be respected," Tomaz Salomao, Secretary General of SADC, said after the one-day meeting. "What the summit recommended was, in recognizing that there was a need for more time, that the government of Zimbabwe engage the constitutional court to ask for more time beyond the deadline of July 31."

SADC leaders had earlier feared that hurrying the elections would increase the chances of a disputed result and violence.

In 2008 hundreds of Zimbabweans, mostly Tsvangirai's supporters, were beaten and killed, creating a flood of refugees into neighboring countries.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti, who is also secretary general of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change party, said SADC had "ordered a return to constitutionalism."

"We Zimbabweans want an election yesterday. However, it must be legitimate and credible," Biti said.

The SADC summit, postponed by a week at Mugabe's request, had also been expected to discuss finance for the elections, expected to cost the cash-strapped country $132 million. But the funding was not debated during the summit.

The summit did discuss developments in Madagascar, which slid into turmoil after disc jockey-turned-politician Andry Rajoelina seized power from Marc Ravalomanana with military support in 2009.

Foreign donors froze budget support and the Indian Ocean island was suspended from the African Union. Succumbing to regional pressure, both men agreed in January not to run in a presidential election in August.

But Ravalomanana's wife then said she would contest the election, a decision that led current president Rajoelina to rejoin the presidential race.

The summit said there was need for international political and diplomatic pressure for "illegitimate presidential candidates to withdraw their candidatures for the sake of peace and stability in Madagascar."

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid