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Elections will not be Postponed
November 02, 2004
The Zimbabwean government
has said general elections slated for next March will not be moved
to a later date to accommodate the opposition.
The announcement was
made by Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge to Non-Aligned Movement diplomats
Monday in Harare. Mr. Mudenge was responding to news reports that
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai wants the elections postponed
to later next year.
In a report in the government-owned
daily newspaper, The Herald, Mr. Mudenge said it would be beyond
the government's constitutional mandate to put off the elections.
He said if the government did that, it would be attacked for what
he called remaining in power without the people's mandate.
The minister said from
the government's point of view, since the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change had not ask parliament for the postponement, it
is still speculation. But he said the MDC would have to give convincing
and powerful reasons to justify delaying the elections.
He said the opposition
was given 12 months to prepare for the elections, adding that even
if the poll was postponed for six months the opposition party would
ask for more time.
Mr. Tsvangirai expressed
his desire to have the elections postponed during a trip to South
Africa last month. He said he was concerned there might not be sufficient
time to implement the sort of institutional changes that are required
to run a free and fair election.
The MDC is demanding
that the government implement the Southern African Development Community
guidelines on democratic elections. The Southern African Development
Community is a group of 14 southern African countries. Zimbabwe
signed the group's electoral guidelines.
One of the SADC requirements
is that opposition parties have access to the public media.
Foreign Minister Stan
Mudenge said opposition parties will be accorded access to public
media during elections. He criticized the European Union for saying
opposition parties are denied time and space on the public media
while stations such as VOA's Studio 7 are, in his words, bombarding
Zimbabweans with anti-government propaganda on a daily basis.
The government has said
it will make some changes to the electoral laws, but the opposition
says these do not go far enough. Last August, the opposition party
announced it would not participate in any elections until the Southern
African Development Community standards are implemented.
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