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Party of Zimbabwean Prime Minister Gears for Polls Even As it Opposes a 2012 Vote

The MDC has been under pressure from President Robert Mugabe and his former ruling ZANU-PF party who want elections to be held this year with or without a new constitution

The Movement for Democratic Change formation of Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has described 2012 as a watershed year, vowing Wednesday to step up preparations for elections regardless of whether they will be held this year or not.

Analysts noted that this was a shift in the party’s position whose leader, Mr. Tsvangirai, is on record as insisting elections can only be held next year to allow implementation of key electoral reforms.

But the Tsvangirai MDC has been under pressure from President Robert Mugabe and his former ruling ZANU-PF party who are demanding elections this year with or without a new constitution and other changes that promote democracy.

Mr. Mugabe says fresh polls are necessary to replace the power-sharing government, citing policy disagreements with his governing partners. He has described the unity arrangement as unworkable.

The MDC National Executive admitted Wednesday after meeting in Harare that differences between the coalition partners remained, accusing in particular Information Minister Webster Shamu of frustrating media reforms.

The executive said Shamu’s alleged obstinacy was “part of the grand plan by ZANU-PF to undermine the inclusive government in its attempt to create conditions for free and fair elections.”

The party also castigated ZANU-PF governor for Masvingo, Titus Maluleke for banning some non-governmental organizations in his province.

In another glaring rift with ZANU-PF, the Tsvangirai MDC praised the parliamentary select committee in charge of drafting the country’s new constitution saying it was doing a great job.

ZANU-PF hardliners have denounced the committee demanding that it be disbanded.

Spokesman Douglas Mwonzora of the Tsvangirai MDC said even though the party was preparing for elections this year, it will continue pushing for reforms to allow a conducive environment for a free vote.

Political analyst and Human Rights lawyer Jeremiah Bamu of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights told VOA reporter Blessing Zulu that it was impossible for Harare to hold elections this year.