|27. Mai 2010
Referendum possibly next year
Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said Thursday a referendum on a new constitution will be delayed, possibly until next year.
Under the unity deal that brought Tsvangirai into government with his long-time rival President Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe was meant to vote on a new charter by August.
"That has been delayed but we are hoping to catch up to that," he told reporters during a visit to South Africa. "It will happen this year or the early part of next year," he said. "Whenever that happens, we can sit down and decide on an election date," he added. "I cannot put the cart before the horse."
Adoption of a new charter would pave way for fresh elections following disputed presidential polls in 2008, when Mugabe claimed victory after Tsvangirai pulled out of a run-off, citing violence against his supporters.
The rivals are supposed to be conducting an 18-month effort to gather the views of the public and draft a new constitution, but that campaign has been repeatedly delayed due to funding problems and occasional disruptions by Mugabe's supporters.
"Zimbabweans need elections, because they need change," Tsvangirai said. "But I cannot short-change the process and announce an election date here." "It is clear that decision will be taken by two people who will sit down and say: 'We have have now had a referendum and we now have to set a date for elections. "There is no definitive date for elections, but there is a process leading to that election," he said.
Mugabe, who at 86 is Africa's oldest leader, has already indicated that he is ready to stand for another term, raising fears that the polls could see a repeat of the deadly bloodshed that marred the 2008 race.