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Tsvangirai to Embark on Diplomatic Offensive Ahead of Crucial Polls

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says he is embarking on a diplomatic offensive to pile pressure on President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party to implement democratic reforms ahead of elections expected to be held sometime this year.

Mr. Tsvangirai told a news conference at his party’s Harvest House headquarters Thursday that he will meet with heads of states and government in the Southern African Development Community and the African Union to drum up support for the implementation of key democratic reforms before the holding of general elections.

Both President Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai want elections held this year although the protagonists are yet to agree on the date of the polls.

Mr. Tsvangirai said his party will ensure that the elections are not conducted before key media, electoral and security sector reforms are implemented.

The prime minister’s remarks buttress Mavambo Kusile Dawn leader Simba Makoni’s call Wednesday for reforms in the security sector.

The Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, a local think tank, warned in a report released Tuesday that the absence of security sector reforms may block a peaceful transfer of power if Mr. Tsvangirai wins the pending elections.
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The prime minister accused President Mugabe and his party of blocking reforms agreed to by parties signatory to the Global Political Agreement of power-sharing.

The MDC leader said the secretariat of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission should be professionalized to ensure the forthcoming polls are credible.

As elections draw near, the premier also called for the licensing of new truly independent broadcasters. Two new radio stations, Zi-FM owned by former ZBC broadcaster Supa Mandiwanzira and Zimpapers’ Talk Radio, which operates as Star FM, were licensed last year but critics say the two broadcasters are not truly independent.