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Zimbabwe PM Under Fire For Moving Towards Election Amidst Escalating Violence

Tsvangirai MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora rejected charges by some that the prime minister is falling into a trap set by ZANU-PF

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is coming under fire from civic activists and analysts for agreeing with President Robert Mugabe to move towards elections even as political violence is escalating and many outstanding issues relating to the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing remain unresolved.

Mr. Tsvangirai told reporters earlier this week after meeting with President Mugabe and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara that the GPA principals had agreed to work towards elections as the 32-month-old inclusive government is disfunctional.

But sources in Parliament said the Electoral Amendment bill intended to overhaul the country's balloting system has gridlocked because Mr. Mugabe’s ZANU-PF and Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change differ on key issues.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and other civic groups have called on the Southern African Development Community and others to insist on a raft of reforms including a new constitution and electoral reforms before elections are held.

They warn that Zimbabwe is not ready for elections which, if held too soon, risk turning into another blood bath as with the last round of elections in 2008.

ZANU-PF sources said the party wants early elections to accommodate an aging President Mugabe who has refused to step down.

ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said his party wants the unity government to come to an end. “We wanted elections this year but because of the prevarication of the MDC we said we will wait until the constitution making process is over," he said.

"So as soon as the constitution making process is over and we have a draft constitution we then have elections early next year,” Gumbo said.

Tsvangirai MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora rejected claims by some that the prime minister is falling into a trap set by ZANU-PF. “The agreement by the principals is that there must be an election in Zimbabwe. The agreement is not that there must be an election tomorrow or next year in March or in June,” Mwonzora said.

Nhlanhla Dube, spokesman for the MDC wing led by Industry Minister Welshman Ncube, said it is premature to call for elections before the reforms set out in the GPA have been implemented. He said he believes elections cannot be held until 2013.

Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, director of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, said the political parties must at least set minimum conditions for free and fair elections.