Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday called for a new presidential election in 2011 unaccompanied by general elections, saying 2008 parliamentary results were undisputed while the presidential ballot failed to produce a clear winner.
Mr. Tsvangirai announced his preference for 2011 elections as President Robert Mugabe met in conference with his ZANU-PF party in eastern Mutare, capital of Manicaland province, where he was expected to push for a full slate of 2011 elections.
The rival Movement for Democratic Change formation of Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara said it supports holding a presidential election only next year.
Mutambara MDC Parliamentary Chief Whip Edward Mkhosi told VOA Studio 7 reporter Chris Gande that the country does not have enough money to hold general elections, so it makes sense just to elect a new president to resolve power-sharing conflicts.
Mr. Tsvangirai, founder of the former opposition MDC, has been sharing power with Mr. Mugabe since February 2009 in a national unity government formed on the basis of a so-called Global Political Agreement to resolve a post 2008 elections stalemate.
At his party conference, President Mugabe was drawing on material from whistleblower Website Wikileaks to push his ZANU-PF party toward elections in 2011.
ZANU-PF insiders said the conference will determine the fate of the troubled national unity government. Mr. Mugabe, addressing the ZANU-PF central committee Wednesday, accused the former opposition of working with the West to bring him down.
Party insiders say Wikileaks releases alleging anti-Mugabe plots have given ZANU-PF hardliners an upper hand in debate over elections timing. Mr. Mugabe told his party that the national unity government formed in 2009 is ending and elections are at hand.
But this position sets up a potential clash with the Southern African Development Community, which has urged the unity government principals to draw up an elections roadmap rather than pressing ahead to new national ballots.
For a detailed look at the ZANU-PF conference’s bearing on elections, VOA reporter Blessing Zulu turned to Pedzisai Ruhanya of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and University of Zimbabwe political scientist Joseph Kurebwa.
Kurebwa says the ZANU-PF conference will be a political watershed.
Elsewhere, the Mutambara MDC formation started nominating leaders for the top seven positions in the party including president, secretary general and treasurer ahead of a party congress next month. Party sources said Mutambara was not nominated - but nominations have yet to come from Bulawayo, the party's geographical base.
Political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sithandekile Mhlanga that observers expected there would be an attempt to exclude Mutambara, an ebullient and at times controversial personality, from the leadership ahead of anticipated elections.
The Mutambara MDC has been in turmoil for months with a number of prominent defections to the dominant MDC faction led by Prime Minister Tsvangirai.