Zimbabwe leader disputes presidential run-off date (Lead)

May 16th, 2008 - 8:13 pm ICT by admin  

Belfast, May 16 (DPA) Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai reiterated Friday that his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will take part in the presidential run-off but said the date June 27 set for the poll was “not on the basis of law”. Tsvangirai, who was speaking in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he was attending a conference organised by Liberal International, said the rulers of Zimbabwe were “changing the goal posts to suit themselves”.

He said the only date for a run-off that would be in line with the constitution would have been May 23.

That was the “only objection” he had to the announcement by the Electoral Commission head George Chiweshe Friday.

The date was also contained in a government gazette that appeared Friday.President Robert Mugabe , 84, leader since independence in 1980 and accused of gross human rights violations, and former national trade union leader Tsvangirai are due to square off again after neither achieved over 50 percent of the vote needed for outright victory in elections March 29.

Zimbabwe’s laws call for a run-off within 21 days of the results being announced, but ZEC Wednesday extended the window for a second round to 90 days from the results that announced officially May 2. After a five-week wait for the result, Tsvangirai was given 47.9 percent of the ballot, to 43.2 percent for Mugabe.

Human rights organisations, churches and diplomats report that ruling party militias are carrying out a nationwide campaign of vengeance attacks on supporters of Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change to terrorise them into voting for Mugabe in the run-off. The MDC has called the postponement of the election “illegitimate and unconstitutional”.

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