PM Morgan Tsvangirai accuses Robert Mugabe of frog marching Zimbabwe towards another 'illegitimate and violent' election

President invokes powers to bypass parliament and declare elections to be held by the end of July

President Robert Mugabe has been accused of “frog marching” Zimbabweans towards another “illegitimate and violent” election after unilaterally declaring 31 July as polling day.

Morgan Tsvangirai, his political rival and prime minister in the power sharing government that followed the last election, has opposed snap elections saying they would violate the country's new constitution.

Mr Tsvangirai, who was informed by letter of the election date warned that key reforms to the media, security services and voters' roll had not been carried out. He fears that the push for early elections aims to exploit loopholes that will allow his opponents to rig the election. The prime minister said the earliest legal date for an election was 25 August. He described the attempt to push through an early vote as “a clear, flagrant and fraudulent breach of our Constitution.”

Earlier in the day Mr Mugabe unilaterally changed several aspects of the election law including reducing the registration period, which began on Monday from 30 days to 17. Zimbabwe's highest court surprised observers in May by calling for elections to be held no later than the end of June despite a host of agreed reforms still waiting to be implemented. The 89-year-old Mr Mugabe is a past master of using procedure to throttle any challenge to his authority. The bulk of the reforms agreed to in peace talks five years ago, mediated by South Africa, have been hollowed out or entirely ignored.

The old political foes have been been locked in a dysfunctional unity government that was agreed under pressure from regional powers including South Africa in the aftermath of violent and disputed elections in 2008. Mr Tsvangirai won the first round of the last polls but withdrew from a run-off against Mr Mugabe after a concerted campaign of violence and intimidation against his supporters.

Despite delivering some comparative economic stability, Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change has had little influence over the courts, the media or the security services which are still controlled completely by the president's Zany-PF party. An extraordinary summit of regional leaders has been called to discuss the forthcoming elections but has twice been delayed to accommodate Mr Mugabe.

“It is now clear that President Mugabe called for the postponement in order to go to SADC with a done deal of an election date,” said Mr Tsvangirai. “Thus clearly, President Mugabe has sought to render the forthcoming SADC summit a dead rubber and a talk show.”

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue