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Civic Groups Seek Regional Support Ahead of Elections

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition is dispatching delegations to Mozambique and Tanzania as part of its regional offensive to urge leaders to push Harare to implement crucial reforms ahead of polls expected next year.

Mozambican president Armando Guebuza is the current chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete heads the influential SADC Organ on Politics and Defense.

Political rhetoric in Zimbabwe indicates that the three major political parties are preparing for a ballot next year but critics in civil society charge the environment is not yet conducive for a free and fair poll.

President Mugabe has indicated that he may call for general elections in March but the Research and Advocacy Unit said in a statement that it is impossible for elections to be held at that time as the country is currently behind schedule in its constitution-making process – one of SADC's key indicators for the holding of elections.

Changes that civic groups and other political parties are demanding include electoral and media reforms, as well as an end to political violence and intimidation.

The Brussels-based International Crisis Group warned recently that Zimbabwe could slide back into turmoil if the president and hardliners in the security sector continue to block political and economic reforms.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition coordinator McDonald Lewanika said SADC, as one of the guarantors of the Global Political Agreement that led to the formation of the unity government, has the right to push Harare for reforms ahead of crucial polls to avoid bloodshed.
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