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Zimbabwe Court Upholds July 31 Election Date

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (C) inspects the honor guard during a police parade in Harare, June 13, 2013.
Zimbabwe's top court says the country's presidential election will go ahead as planned on July 31.

The Southern African Development Community has pressured Zimbabwe to delay the vote amid concerns about funding, organization and intimidation by security forces that favor President Robert Mugabe.

But the chief justice of the Constitutional Court ruled Thursday that the poll should take place July 31, in line with a proclamation by Mugabe and an earlier court order.

Mugabe's opponent in the election, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, has also pushed for a delay, saying the country first needs to implement democratic reforms.

In a report last month, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch accused army soldiers of beating and abusing perceived opponents of Mugabe. It said the security forces must be reined in if the elections are to be credible.

Zimbabwe's last presidential election in 2008 was deeply marred by violence against Tsvangirai supporters. Regional leaders rejected the result after Mugabe was declared the winner, and forced the president to form a power-sharing government.

The 89-year-old Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.