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Elections Monitor Calls For Referendum On Mugabe Term Extension

Zimbabwe’s leading independent election monitoring body has called for a referendum before the ruling party moves ahead with a proposal to postpone the 2008 presidential election until 2010, thus extending President Robert Mugabe’s term by two years.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network acknowledged that the ruling party is unlikely to seek public approval of the change. But ZESN's founder said it would be advisable to do so before the ZANU-PF dominated parliament proceeds to an amendment of the constitution authorizing the so-called "harmonization" of national elections.

ZESN's founder and chairman, Reginald Matchaba-Hove, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that although there could be benefits from synchronizing presidential and parliamentary elections, postponing the next presidential election until 2010 could deepen the crisis in the country.

But Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Chairman George Chiweshe said that despite the hue and cry being raised by opposition parties and civil society, the “harmonization” of elections will provide time for improvements in electoral logistics.

More reports from VOA'S Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...