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British Ambassador Canning Warns Zimbabwe Against Rushing Into Fresh Polls Before Major Reforms

  • Ntungamili Nkomo

Both President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have told supporters to brace for elections next year when the lifespan of the unity government expires.

The political climate in Zimbabwe is not yet conducive to a free and fair general election, British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mark Canning said Tuesday.

The diplomat warned the polls, which President Mugabe wants to be held some time next year, could produce the same result as the 2008 eelctions if held under the prevailing conditions.

Speaking at a press briefing Canning said Zimbabwe needs time to work on media and political reforms, including repealing repressive legislation, introducing new electoral laws, and updating the voter's roll.

Both President Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have told supporters to brace for elections next year when the lifespan of the unity government expires.

Mr Mugabe says soon after a referendum is held next year on the draft constitution, elections to chose a new leadership for the country must follow.

But ambassador Canning told the news conference that the time was not yet ripe for fresh polls, especially in the absence of major reforms.

"It is not for us to say when elections should be held. It is for the parties in the global political agreement to decide when the next election should be held," he said.

"We envisage that a poll that is held prematurely will neither be free nor fair," Canning added.

Political analyst Brilliant Mhlanga told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that parties in the inclusive government must first meet certain benchmarks that guarantee a free and fair election before calling for a fresh poll.

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