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Zimbabwean Civic Groups Urge Political Parties to Eschew Violence Ahead of 2011 Polls

  • Ntungamili Nkomo

President Robert Mugabe, head of the long-ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, or ZANU-PF, has insisted elections must be held next year though many Zimbabweans doubt the country is ready

A broad range of Zimbabwean non-governmental organizations on Monday called on the three parties sharing power in a national unity government to refrain from violence ahead of anticipated 2011 elections to ensure political and economic stability.

President Robert Mugabe, head of the long-ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, or ZANU-PF, has insisted elections must be held next year though many Zimbabweans and observers doubt the country is ready for another round of polls.

The National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations, a coalition of over 100 civil society groups, said it wants the power-sharing parties - which besides ZANU-PF include the two rival formations of the Movement for Democratic Change - to preach peace to supporters to a repeat of the violence seen in 2008 elections.

Nango said a new constitution needs to be put in place before elections are held, which will require a national referendum asking voters to approve that basic document.

Nango Chief Executive Cephas Zinhumwe said any elections should be held in a climate free of political violence so voters can cast ballots without fear.

"We want to see a continuation of the economic stability that is prevailing at the moment, and for that to happen, political parties have to refrain from violent activity," he said.

Top ZANU-PF and security service officials have declared that their party will not give up power in the event it loses the elections, raising concern among Zimbabweans.

London-based political analyst Mqondobanzi Magonya told VOA reporter Ntungamili NKomo that an election roadmap must be in place to ensure results are respected.

"Political stability in any country is the benchmark of economic growth, and as we approach elections in Zimbabwe, we have to make sure there is a balance," he said.

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