Backtracking from recent statements urging a new round of national elections in 2011, Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said Monday that he would not commit to new polls in the near term if a current upsurge in political violence continues unabated.
Addressing victims of politically motivated violence and torture at a one-day summit of survivors of violence organized by the Heal Zimbabwe Trust, Mr. Tsvangirai said the escalation of violence in the ongoing constitutional revision outreach process argued against holding elections soon.
Mr. Tsvangirai as well as President Robert Mugabe have expressed the desire for new elections in 2011 to resolve the deadlock in the power-sharing government set up in 2009 based on a Global Political Agreement signed in September 2008 following violence-marred elections.
VOA Studio 7 correspondent Thomas Chiripasi reported that Mr. Tsvangirai climbed down from his position Monday saying he would not endanger the lives of Zimbabweans by supporting elections in an environment which is not conducive to their being held without violence.
Mr. Tsvangirai pulled out of the June 2008 presidential runoff election at the last minute protesting violence that killed more than 200 members of his Movement for Democratic Change.
President Mugabe, meanwhile, joined other world leaders in New York Monday for the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly focusing on the Millennium Development Goals set in 2000.
Mr. Mugabe is expected to address the General Assembly later this week.
Sources said he will argue that Western sanctions are preventing Zimbabwe from making progress toward Millennium goals including poverty reduction and reduced child mortality.
Addressing the General Assembly on Monday, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged developed countries to step up funding of the fight against hunger and disease.
His sentiments were echoed by World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick who said his financial institution will continue working with various stakeholders to ensure that the Millennium Development Goals are met.
Washington-based political analyst Briggs Bomba told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that while Mr. Mugabe blames Western sanctions for Harare’s lack of progress on the millennium goals, in reality his administrations have never taken those goals seriously.