Top Zimbabwe court refuses to delay July 31 election

HARARE, (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court rejected a series of government appeals yesterday to delay a July 31 general election in order to allow more time for reform of the security forces and state media.

Zimbabwe adopted a new constitution this year in a trouble-free referendum backed by both long-serving President Robert Mugabe and his main rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

However, the haste with which an election date was set has increased fears of a repeat of the violence and bloodshed that marred a 2008 vote and forced Mugabe and Tsvangirai to form a unity government.

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku did not immediately give reasons for the court’s unanimous rejection of the requests, lodged after the regional South African Development Community (SADC) said a delay was needed to lay the ground for a credible vote.

“For the avoidance of doubt, elections should proceed on the 31st of July in terms of the proclamation by the President of Zimbabwe in compliance with the order of this court,” Chidyausiku said.

Tsvangirai would abide by the decision even though his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party had been pushing hard for a delay of at least two weeks, his spokesman said.

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