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poll body says ready to run March vote
- Zimbabwe's electoral commission says it is ready to conduct March
polls but the country's opposition said on Sunday the body had little
time to prepare and was using old, discredited structures for the
Electoral Commission was set up last month as part of President
Robert Mugabe's government electoral reforms with a mandate to organise
and monitor the vote.
Mugabe has failed to deliver on international demands for wide-ranging
democratic electoral reforms, and has compounded the Zimbabwe crisis
with a set of cosmetic measures designed to keep his ZANU-PF party
judge George Chiweshe told the state-owned Sunday Mail in an interview
that the electoral body would use existing structures to conduct
the March 31 elections.
"For us the
time is adequate...there is nothing new about such elections and
the argument that the period given is too short has no basis at
all," Chiweshe said.
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) wanted the poll delayed, saying
the commission would not have enough time to prepare. But the government
said it would be illegal to postpone the vote.
On Sunday MDC
spokesman Paul-Themba Nyathi said the commission was using the "discredited"
structures for the elections, referring to the commission sharing
offices and staff with other poll bodiess.
The MDC says
that it was robbed of victory in the 2000 parliamentary elections
won by ZANU-PF and the the presidential vote two years later, won
by Mugabe amid charges of vote-rigging and violence.
Four other bodies
are involved in running of elections.
"They are using
structures of discredited institutions which have failed to run
credible elections since independence in 1980," Themba-Nyathi told
said the commission could not deal with disputes arising from elections.
The MDC wanted the body to be given powers to punish perpetrators
of violence which it says has tilted previous polls in favour of
"What is crucial
is for the people to gain confidence in their electoral body which
should be able to deal with electoral disputes," said Themba-Nyathi.
Mugabe on Saturday
accused MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai of seeking financial support
for his party from the West, which he says wants to punish his government
for its land seizures to resettle Blacks.
Mugabe, 81 later
this month, says he has won elections fairly and his party will
bury the MDC in next month's polls.
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