Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe in electoral climbdown as he agrees to push back date of vote from end of July

 

Robert Mugabe has acceded to regional pressure and agreed to push back the date for elections in Zimbabwe. The 89-year-old president had risked a constitutional crisis by using special powers to announce polls on 31 July.

His political rivals accused him of pushing for early elections before key reforms to the security sector and media can be passed, or a new voter register could be completed. Under pressure following a regional summit last weekend, the Zimbabwean president has asked the constitutional court to reconsider its May request to hold the vote before the end of July.

The new date, pending the court's decision, is expected to be 14 August. In an interview with the state-owned media, Africa's oldest president appeared unbowed by being made to wait:
"The other parties do not want elections, they are afraid of elections. They know they are going to lose and it's a sure case that they are going to lose," he said.

The former opposition Movement for Democratic change which has been locked in an unhappy power sharing government for since 2008 treated the date change as a victory. Tendai Biti, finance minister and one of the MDC's senior figures predicted that his party would “finish off” Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

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