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Elections by June: Sadc

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HARARE – Zimbabwe must go for fresh elections by June next year, South Africa’s top foreign chief said yesterday sparking a battle with President Robert Mugabe who is escalating his push for a March 2013 poll.

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South Africa’s minister of International Relations and Cooperation, said President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube, leader of the smaller MDC, have all reaffirmed to President Jacob Zuma that the coalition government had a June 2013 sunset clause.

Zuma is the mediator in the Zimbabwean political crisis and speaks on behalf Sadc.

Zimbabwean leaders must proclaim election dates by June next year once conditions on the ground are ripe for a fair contest.

She spoke as Mugabe reiterated his demand for a March 2013 election timetable at the opening of the fifth and final session of the seventh Parliament in Harare on Tuesday.

Zimbabwe’s main political parties have disagreed on the poll timetable, with the two ruling MDCs insisting on a June poll and demanding full implementation of a road map mediated by regional grouping Sadc.

Sadc, which appointed Zuma as mediator to Zimbabwe’s political negotiations, is heavily influential in the country’s politics because it brokered and guaranteed the power sharing Global Political Agreement (GPA).

The internal contradictions at the heart of the coalition, latent from the start, are now beginning to emerge in full public view as the country hurtles towards a fresh election.

The rivals turned “unity” government partners, have so far failed to agree terms under which the election roadmap and GPA can be fully implemented.

The three are under pressure from Sadc, which wants them to hammer out a final agreement and implement the GPA instruments in time for elections.

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