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Zimbabwe's To Hold By-Elections Before End of Year

Zimbabwean Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa says the country will hold elections in all constituencies with vacancies before the end of the year to comply with last week’s Supreme Court ruling compelling President Robert Mugabe to gazette poll dates by August 30 for three Matebeleland constituencies.

But some hardliners in Zanu-PF are urging president Mugabe to call general elections instead of a "mini election".

Chinamasa said there are 38 vacant seats in the senate and house of assembly, and more than 200 in rural and urban councils, mainly as a result of deaths.the by the government’s own estimates, the by-elections could cost close to US$40 million. It remains unclear if the three parties in the government of national unity are going to contest each other in the elections.

The Global Political Agreement says the parties cannot contest each other for a year after the sigining of the GPA.

But the MDC formation led by Welshman Ncube says an agreement was reached at a SADC troika meeting in Maputo in 2009 extending the moratorium to cover the entire lifespan of the inclusive government.

Senior officials from Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told VOA they need to consult on the issue.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairman Simpson Mutambanengwe says they are ready to conduct elections but adds, there is need for further consultations. Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairman Simpson Mutambanengwe in Harare.

The Zimbabwe Broadcasating Corporation qoutes Attorney General Johannes Tomana as saying the Supreme Court ruling on by-elections in the three constituencies has finally set the tone for Mr Mugabe to exercise his executive powers to call for partial or harmonized elections. Tomana told VOA that Mr Mugabe will abide by the ruling.

But political analyst Sydney Chisi, Director of Youth in Democracy Initiative of Zimbabwe, says Mr Mugabe cannot unilaterally call for elections.