Tsvangirai vows to resist Mugabe poll push
Harare - Zimbabwe's prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai vowed on Friday to resist a push by President Robert Mugabe to hold new elections this year.
"Only after the necessary reforms have been implemented will the president and I agree on the date of elections," Tsvangirai told a press conference.
"I will not agree to elections without the reforms."
The statement came after Mugabe insisted elections would be held this year, with or without a new constitution agreed to in his power-sharing deal with Tsvangirai, and said he would invoke the current constitution to declare an election date if other parties refused.
Tsvangirai and Mugabe formed a power-sharing government in 2009 to mend an inflation-ravaged economy and avoid a political melt-down after a bloody presidential run-off election.
They agreed to a raft of reforms including amending electoral and media laws and drafting a new constitution to pave the way to fresh polls.
But work on the new charter has run in fits and starts, hindered by attacks on public outreach meetings by supporters of Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.
Tsvangirai accused Zanu-PF cabinet ministers of stalling the reforms but said he would not be pushed out of the shaky power-sharing government.
"I want to assure everyone, yes we have had to bear with frustrations but thank goodness we are made of sterner stuff. No one is going to push us out," he said.
Mugabe, in power since independence in 1980, was chosen in December by Zanu-PF to stand again as its presidential candidate.
He said in an interview to mark his 88th birthday on Tuesday that he has no plans to retire anytime soon.
Mugabe has repeatedly pushed for elections this year but the constitution-drafting commission says a referendum on the charter could not be held before August - meaning elections under the new constitution would not likely be possible until next year.