Southern African leaders call on Mugabe to delay elections

Southern African leaders have called on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to extend a July 31 deadline to hold general elections.

The secretary general of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) issued the statement at the end of a one-day meeting in the Mozambican capital Maputo on Saturday night.

The SADC is composed of Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Madagascar has been suspended.

On May 31, the Constitutional Court ruled that Mugabe should set a date as soon as possible, and that the elections must be held by the end of July.

On June 13, Mugabe declared that the elections would be held on July 31.

Later on that same day, Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said that Mugabe was creating a political crisis in the country, adding that the date was too soon to allow the reforms required for a free and fair election.

“The summit acknowledged the ruling of the Constitutional Court on the election date and it will be respected,” SADC Secretary General Tomaz Salomao said.

“What the summit recommended was, in recognizing that there was a need for more time, that the government of Zimbabwe engage the Constitutional Court to ask for more time beyond the deadline of July 31.”

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