MDC advises caution on elections

tendai_biti3HARARE Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirais MDC party has called for caution on fresh elections in Zimbabwe, where the last vote two years ago ended in a stalemate amid violence that killed at least 200 of the partys supporters. (Pictured: MDC secretary general Tendai Biti)

Reacting to recommendations by the just ended southern African summit for Zimbabwes coalition partners to end their power-sharing dispute in order to clear the way for elections to choose a new government, the MDC said they were various measures including enacting a new constitution that have to be implemented before a new vote.

There are so many things that have to be done before the elections and after the elections. The last six months after the elections are very dangerous, we saw this in 2008, party secretary general Tendai Biti told journalists in Harare.

A communiqu released by Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders at the end of their summit on Tuesday called on the Zimbabwe parties to conclude implementation of their power-sharing deal and complete the writing of a new constitution that should ensure free and fair elections.

The communiqu did not say by when the MDC and President Robert Mugabes ZANU PF party should have resolved their political dispute or when exactly Zimbabwe should hold new elections.

However, a report on the political situation in Zimbabwe presented to regional leaders by South African President Jacob Zuma said the Harare coalition partners must resolve their differences within 30 days, complete the drafting of a new constitution as a prelude to the holding of elections.

Zuma is the SADCs mediator in the Zimbabwe inter-party dialogue. He has long been known to favour a new vote as the best way to end the political crisis in his northern neighbour.

Biti, who said his party was cautiously happy with the outcome of the SADC summit, said: If SADC and the people of Zimbabwe are able to implement the recommendations of the facilitator . I think that we can achieve the transition (to more political stability and democracy.

Zimbabwes last polls in 2008 polls were inconclusive and triggered a political stalemate that threatened to plunge the country and the entire region into turmoil.

The political crisis only eased after Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, who heads a smaller opposition party, bowed to pressure from SADC to form a power-sharing government in February last year.

The unity government has been able to stabilise the economy but it has failed to end political violence or pursue a faster programme of democratic reform, while an unending squabble between Mugabe and Tsvangirai (Prime Minister) over how to equally share executive power has been a destabilising factor.

Both Mugabe and Tsvangirai have on different occasions in the past few months called for a fresh vote in 2011, saying this was the only way to resolve their power-sharing dispute.

But analysts say next year is too early for elections in a country where the voters roll remains chaotic and inaccurate while an exercise to write a new constitution that should ensure a free and fair vote has been delayed by several months and even then continues to progress at a snails pace.

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