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Mugabe softens on election date

06-03-2011 16:08 BJT

HARARE, June 3 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has climbed down from his rigid position that fresh elections should be held this year and is now leaving room for them to be conducted next year.

Addressing chiefs in Mutare Thursday, Mugabe expressed his frustration over the way the inclusive government was being run and said elections should be held as soon as possible, albeit leaving room for next year.

He accused Finance Minister Tendai Biti, who belongs to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party, of scuttling efforts to revive the economy by starving the agricultural support budget.

"Biti is even trying to grab some of the presidential powers in various ways. We now want this Global Political Agreement to go and this should happen this year.

"If we fail, then elections should be held during the first few months of next year. What we want are elections this year," he said a day after a meeting of his party's politburo discussed the election roadmap.

Mugabe had earlier been steadfast that elections should be held this year to end the power-sharing arrangement between his Zanu-PF party and the MDC faction led by Tsvangirai and the other one now led by Welshman Ncube following inconclusive elections in 2008.

However, the MDC factions are against the holding of elections this year, arguing that various reforms in the security, media and electoral laws have to precede fresh polls.

South African President Jacob Zuma, who is the Southern African Development Community's facilitator to the power-sharing agreement has also suggested a package of reforms to be implemented before fresh elections.

His representatives working on an election roadmap with negotiators from the three governing Zimbabwean parties have also ruled out elections this year.

Although Mugabe's party had initially been hostile to the proposed roadmap, national spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said this week that the party was determined to see the Zimbabwean problem resolved within the context of the SADC mediation.

The Zimbabwe issue will be discussed on the sidelines of the tripartite SADC/East African Community/Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa summit in South Africa next week.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: Xinhua

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