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Zimbabwe Leaders Talk 2011 Elections - But Others Say Country Not Ready

Observers say new elections in 2011 may not be in the interest Mr. Mugabe or Mr. Tsvangirai - the one due to the risk of a repeat of 2008 electoral violence, the other given the risk of being roundly defeated based on recent polls

Both Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have recently come out with statements indicating they are contemplating new elections next year given the persistent divisions that have plagued their national unity government.

Mr. Mugabe made it clear that he saw elections coming in 2011 whether the constitutional revision process now under way is completed or not.

But observers say a new round of elections two years after the formation of the unity government may not be in the interest of either leader – Mr. Tsvangirai given the risk of a repeat of the electoral violence and alleged fraud of the 2008 elections, and Mr. Mugabe the risk he might be roundly defeated at the polls.

The president and prime minister met Monday in yet another effort to reconcile their wide differences on a growing range of issues – most recently President Mugabe’s move to shift powers from ministers of Mr. Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change formation to those of his ZANU-PF party.

Mr. Tsvangirai told his party supporters in the Harare satellite town of Chitungwiza on Sunday to brace for elections next year, but acknowledged that his MDC fears the resurgence of politically-motivated violence if such elections are held. He said the African Union and the Southern African Development Community should deploy peacekeepers to Zimbabwe before the polls to ensure there is not a further round of violence.

Political analyst Emmanuel Hlabangana told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that the possibility of an election next year is very real, but he warned that the environment is not yet conducive for polls.

Following Mr. Tsvangirai’s declaration that he is ready to stand if elections are held in 2011, some experts are voicing caution as to holding elections that soon.

Chairman Tinoziva Bere of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that he is not convinced the country is ready for elections - or that ZANU-PF would ever agree to a role for international peacekeepers in the balloting.