Prime Minister sees no elections in 2011

CAPE TOWN – Zimbabwe is unlikely to hold elections by the end of 2011 but polls are likely to take place within the next 12 months, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said on Thursday.\r\n

”There will be no election this year, it will probably be conducted in the next 12 months,” said Tsvangirai, who has an uneasy power-sharing agreement with President Robert Mugabe.

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Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Cape Town, Tsvangirai was confident voting would take place in a free and fair environment and the outcome would be respected.

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“There is no basis for a repeat of what happened in the Ivory Coast. When people have lost an election, they must accept,” he said, referring to Ivory Coast’s violently disputed presidential election.

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Tsvangirai said Thursday that negotiating his shaky unity pact with veteran Robert Mugabe was “the most frustrating experience” of his life but was key to halting the country’s collapse.

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“It is the most frustrating experience of my life to have to negotiate with somebody who lost an election, and then forced to negotiate an arrangement where the loser comes through the window in order to claim the same rights like somebody who has won,” Tsvangirai said.

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“But I think that you reach a stage where, given the level of collapse, you may have to forego whether you have won or not and say what is the best solution for the people,” he told a session of the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town.

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Mugabe and Tsvangirai’s power-sharing government — formed in February 2009 after a violent and disputed election — has succeeded in halting Zimbabwe’s economic tailspin, mainly by ditching the local currency after record hyperinflation.

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But the ruling pair have repeatedly locked horns over implementing the deal.

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In March, regional leaders insisted that Zimbabwe draft a new constitution before holding new elections that will end the fragile coalition.

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Tsvangirai earlier told a media briefing that there would be no polls this year but predicted they would probably be held in the next 12 months, saying the outcome must be credible.

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“The next election must produce a legitimate government so that we don’t have the losers trying to negotiate their way back into power through some form of an arrangement or some form of a coalition like the government of national unity,” he said.

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Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, is hoping to strengthen his party as he tries to unseat Mugabe who has been in power since 1980.

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Mugabe was forced into the unity government with Tsvangirai after a disputed election in 2008 marred by violence and he has been pushing for early elections this year.

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Negotiators

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All political parties’ negotiators to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) left the country on Wednesday for a two day meeting in South Africa, Cape Town with President Jacob Zuma’s facilitation team.

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The negotiators recently completed an election roadmap to free and fair election which they handed to their Principals and to the South African facilitation team led by Charles Nqakula, Zuma’s adviser.

Zimbabwe’s political crisis has resulted in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) troika summit calling on the unity government to fully implement all agreed issues in the GPA. The troika said it will send a team to be stationed at the Namibian embassy to monitor progress.

“The negotiators left (Wednesday) for the meetings in South Africa. This is a crucial meeting as it is before the SADC extra-ordinary summit that is set to be held in Windhoek, Namibia,” a government official privy with the discussions said.

The negotiators from the three main parties are Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche from Zanu (PF), Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma from the larger Movement for Democratic Change led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) and Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga and Moses Mzila Ndlovu from the smaller MDC formation.

Some analysts have pointed out that the full SADC summit will likely push President Robert Mugabe to fully implement the GPA unity pact.

“We are likely to see a different SADC saying to Mugabe in the face that they cannot continue with these extra-ordinary summits which are not moving anything on the ground. Diplomacy will be dead at the meeting,” one analyst said.