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Zimbabwe Leader Wants Elections in March Next Year

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (R) and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in Harare, April 18, 2011.
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe wants to hold a general election next March, ruling out by-elections ordered by courts earlier this year. Mugabe's coalition goverment partner, Morgan Tsvangirai, is not happy with President Mugabe's election timetable and wants a new constitution and reforms before a general election is held.

Court papers show President Mugabe says Zimbabwe cannot afford to hold court ordered by-elections to fill at least 26 vacant seats in parliament. He just wants a general election the last week of March, 2013.

Zimbabwe Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa in an interview said it is just not possible to follow a Supreme Court order to hold the by-elections.

"It is nonsensical anyway to have by-elections three months before harmonized [general] elections. For that reason we are applying for an extension which would [have] the by-elections would be subsumed into the harmonized which are anticipated in March next year," said Chinamasa.

Chinamasa said President Mugabe has filed a new application to the country's Supreme Court to just hold the general election in March and not hold a seperate by-election.

Earlier this year, a judge dismissed being broke as a reason for deferring those elections.

Douglas Mwonzora, a spokesman for Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change party says the election dates proposed by President Mugabe in the court papers are not feasible.

The last elections in Zimbabwe were held in 2008 and many regional leaders nullified the results citing violence targeting the MDC party of Mr. Mugabe's coalition partner Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Rindai Chipfunde-Vava from the Zimbabwe Support Network (ZESN) believes no elections should be held until Zimbabwe has reforms in place.

“We are also looking at issues to do with the cleansing of the voters roll; we feel that it needs to be revisited…deleting dead people. There are other issues which look at technical aspects to do with ((election)) results management as you know that it took over a month to announce [the] last presidential election result. So we feel that those issues need to be ironed out before the next election," said Vava.

A referendum on a new constitution for Zimbabwe is set for November.

Meanwhile Zimbabwean parties are failing to agree on the contents of the new draft constitution.

The new constitution is one of the benchmarks set by the Southern African Development Community to have a free and fair election. But now issues of homosexuals’ rights, presidential powers and dual citizenship have delayed the process of building a constitution.