July elections in Zim 'problematic'

2013-06-21 18:01

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Pretoria - The government hopes the top court in Zimbabwe will allow the crucial Zimbabwe election date to be pushed back from 31 July, Deputy International Relations Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim said on Friday.

In line with resolutions of a Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit held in Maputo, immediate steps had to be taken to create conducive conditions for credible elections, Ebrahim told journalists in Pretoria.

"Without undermining the Constitutional court decision as such, I think any reasonable court will see that there are certain constitutional and logistical problems that will arise [if elections were held on 31 July]," he said.

"The court will have to look at it in a very favourable way. An extension of 14 or 15 days will not be an unreasonable request and a reasonable court will allow for an extension."

Ebrahim said he was informed of previous instances in Zimbabwe where extensions were granted for local government elections.

The country’s Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa filed papers on Tuesday that sought "a postponement of the date for the harmonised elections from 31 July 2013 to 14 August 2013".

That announcement came just days after Southern African leaders pressed President Robert Mugabe to delay the polls to allow more time for democratic reforms.

Election date

In setting the original election date, Mugabe had said he was complying with the Constitutional court's ruling to hold elections by 31 July.

The elections were to choose a successor to Zimbabwe's uncomfortable power-sharing government, which was forged four years ago as a path away from a decade of political violence.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, a long-time Mugabe rival, has called for reforms - to free the media, depoliticise the security services, and make sure the electoral roll is accurate - before the vote is held.

Analysts in Zimbabwe warned on Friday that Mugabe, though he appeared to have caved in to regional pressure to delay the key elections, could yet forge ahead with the polls without making vital reforms.

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