Skip to comments.Zimbabwe's presidential run-off faces 10-week delay
Posted on 05/14/2008 1:35:50 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's presidential run-off poll is to be delayed by as much as 10 weeks, a government document obtained by AFP showed Wednesday, in a move denounced by the opposition as an attempt to "resuscitate" veteran President Robert Mugabe.
A second round of voting had been expected by May 23 under Zimbabwean law, but the country's top electoral body is to announce Thursday that an election can take place as late as July 31.
In a first round of voting on March 29, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai beat Mugabe by 47.9 to 43.2 percent but fell short of the 50 percent plus one vote required to be declared winner.
"It's clearly illegal and meant to resuscitate (the ruling) ZANU-PF," said a spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Nelson Chamisa, after being informed of the delay.
The aftermath of the first-round ballot has been marked by violence in which pro-government militias are accused of intimidating opposition supporters and political opponents of the regime have been arrested.
The results of the first round were published a much-delayed five weeks after the ballot -- on May 2 -- and Zimbabwean law was understood to stipulate that the second round should take place within 21 days of this date.
But, in a document to be published in the government's official gazette on Thursday and read to AFP by a source at the printers, this time limit has been extended to 90 days, making July 31 the last possible date for an election.
The document does not set a day for the ballot, only the time limit within which it must take place.
The chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, George Chiweshe, declined to confirm the extension but explained why the authorities had approved a delay -- which the ruling party has claimed the law provides for.
"Because we need more time for our preparations, to put our logistics together and the 21 days is insufficient," he told AFP.
The opposition has consistently claimed that delays in the electoral process are designed to give Mugabe, who has been in power since the country's break from white rule in 1980, the time to rig his reelection.
Tsvangirai, who has set a series of conditions for his participation to ensure a fair run-off, had warned Saturday that any extension to the 21-day limit risked "delegitimising" the election.
"This is criminal and scandalous conduct in continuation," Chamisa continued Wednesday.
"First they withheld the election results, then they had an illegal recount and now they are talking about the 90 days," he said.
"This is going to be 90 days of beating up people, killing and destroying property."
Zimbabwean doctors, trade unions and teachers have reported beatings and intimidation by government-backed militias since the first ballot on March 29 and the MDC says 32 of its supporters have been killed.
The government has also intensified a crackdown against its political opponents with the arrests and detention of journalists, union leaders and opposition activists.
The UN's representative to Zimbabwe said Tuesday that escalating post-election unrest risked reaching crisis levels and said most violence had been directed at the MDC, although MDC supporters had also retaliated.
On Wednesday, however, a pro-government rights outfit urged Mugabe to consider declaring a state of emergency to stem the tide of violence.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Justice (ZLJ) said a state of emergency would help protect lives and property from violence which it blamed on opposition activists.
"In view of the current situation, ZLJ appeals to government and President Mugabe to consider the possibility of declaring a state of emergency to quell the disturbances," said the organisation's chief advocate Martin Dinha in a report carried by state-run The Herald newspaper.
Tsvangirai, who has been abroad since early May, announced his intention to contest the run-off on Saturday, but he listed a series of conditions for the election to take place.
These include an end to violence, the presence of peacekeepers and foreign election monitors, free media and changes to the electoral commission. The demands have since been mostly brushed off by the government
Tsvangirai had been expected back in Harare at the beginning of this week, but aides say he will return this coming weekend.
Zimbabwe's presidential run-off poll is to be delayed by as much as 10 weeks, a government document obtained by AFP showed Wednesday, in a move denounced by the opposition as an attempt to "resuscitate" veteran President Robert Mugabe, seen here in April 2008. (AFP/File/Alexander Joe)
“resuscitate” veteran President Robert Mugabe
talk about a ‘Mission Impossible’ plot.
The nations that support this evil deserve what they reap as well.
Which is resolved first?
Zimbabwe or Democrat Nomination?
Time to start taking bets.
A Zimbabwean toddler sits outside the Alexandra police station north of Johannesburg. Having fled the spiralling post-election violence in his native Zimbabwe, Given Sithole never imagined he would now be fearing for his life in what he saw as the safety of neighbouring South Africa. (AFP/Paballo Thekiso)