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Zimbabwe's PM Vows to Fight Election Decree

Zimbabwe Prime Minister and leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change Morgan Tsvangirai speaks at a news conference in Harare, June 13, 2013.
Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has vowed to fight a unilateral decision by President Robert Mugabe to hold national elections on July 31.

Tsvangirai has accused his government coalition partner of acting "unconstitutionally." The prime minister says he can not accept the date.

Tsvangirai commented on Thursday, shortly after Mugabe issued a presidential decree setting the election date, which complies with a constitutional court order that requires the country to hold elections by the end of July.

The constitutional court issued the ruling in May in response to a lawsuit from an activist who demanded Mugabe set an election date before parliament ends its term on June 29.

However, Prime Minister Tsvangirai has said he would not support any election date that comes before democratic reforms are enacted.

He has been seeking adjustments to electoral laws and other statues that affect freedom of expression and association, and the work of the news media.

Tsvangirai says the earliest the country could hold elections would be August 25.

Zimbabwe's last election in 2008 degenerated into violence.

Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since its independence from Britain in 1980, was forced into a power-sharing agreement with his challenger, Tsvangirai.

Mugabe, who is 89, has said he intends to run for president again.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.