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Tsvangirai Urges Mugabe to Change Election Date in Courts

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says President Robert Mugabe should approach the courts to delay national elections the Constitutional Court ruled should be held by July 31.

Mr. Tsvangirai says the election timeline set by the court is not feasible as key democratic reforms should be implemented first ahead of any fresh election.

Addressing civil society groups in the capital Wednesday, Mr. Tsvangirai said President Mugabe should respect the country’s laws that require him to institute democratic reforms before elections are held.

The premier said the constitution does not allow the president to unilaterally declare the date of an election without consulting him.

Mr. Tsvangirai said there was no need for Harare to rush into another election whose results would be contested. Following the Constitutional Court ruling ordering polls to be held by July 31, Mr. Tsvangirai said the president can seek to delay the elections pending the implementation of democratic reforms.

The premier told the civil group leaders that cabinet Tuesday resolved it is no longer the responsibility of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s chief elections officer to announce poll results.

Speaking about the on-going mobile voter registration exercise, Mr. Tsvangirai accused the Registrar General’s Office of deploying soldiers to conduct the program nationwide.

Studio 7 failed to obtain comment from Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede. The MDC has previously accused the military of interfering in the country’s political affairs.

Mr. Tsvangirai says he will raise the need for Harare to demilitarise national processes at SADC’s extraordinary summit in Maputo, Mozambique.

Although cabinet agreed on amendments to the Electoral Act, the prime minister says he will continue to pursue amendments to other laws that infringe on the rights of people ahead of this year’s elections.

Responding to a question on whether his party will unite with the MDC formation of Industry Minister Welshman Ncube ahead of elections, Mr. Tsvangirai said that depends on whether the unity will be in the national interest or not.

He promised to look into concerns by non-governmental organizations complaining that ZEC is refusing to accredit them to monitor the on-going voter registration process.

In a related development, police in Manicaland Province on Wednesday warned political parties to desist from violence ahead of elections expected to be held sometime this year.

Speaking at a Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) meeting discussing the code of conduct for political parties in Mutare, provincial police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Luckson Chananda said parties should educate their supporters to respect their political differences at grassroots level.

Chananda said politicians should continue to speak against political violence so elections can be held in a peaceful environment.

JOMIC officials said the code of conduct should be adopted by all political parties in the country as a way of stemming political violence. They also urged the media to play its part in promoting peace and not use hate speech.

JOMIC is holding meetings in all provinces to promote the code of conduct for political parties.