[QODLink]
Africa

Mugabe July vote call 'illegal'

Independent legal research group says Zimbabwean leader has no power to call elections without cabinet approval.

Last Modified: 15 Jun 2013 16:19
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai are in a unity government that was formed in 2009 [Reuters]

Zimbabwe's legal experts have said President Robert Mugabe's unilateral call for end-of-July polls is illegal and he could be forced to overturn it at an upcoming regional meeting.

Veritas, an independent legal research group, said on Friday Mugabe had no power under the country's constitution to call for elections without the approval of the cabinet.

The goup's reaction came a day after Mugabe unilaterally declared July 31 as the date for presidential and parliamentary elections.

"In issuing an election proclamation, the president is obliged to act on the advice of cabinet. Quite obviously he did not do so. On that ground alone, the proclamation is legally void," the group said in a statement, warning SADC may rescind Mugabe's decision at its Saturday meeting in Maputo, Mozambique.

SADC - or the Southern African Development Community - brings together 15 countries, including Zimbabwe, and has been previously involved in charting the country's political roadmap.

Mugabe, in power since 1980, and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai are in a unity government that was formed in 2009 after violent and disputed elections in 2008.

The legal group said the 89-year-old leader can only act on his own if he wants to dissolve parliament, but in this case he has allowed parliament to run until June 28, when it should expire after its current five-year term.

Tsvangirai, 60, claims Mugabe needs his consent on when to hold elections under the power-sharing deal.

Veritas said Mugabe had created a political crisis in unilaterally calling for polls.

It said once Mugabe has set an election date, amendments to electoral laws that critics say have led to vote-rigging in the past cannot be made as proposed in the nation's new constitution.

Mugabe invoked special presidential powers to by-pass parliament and fast-track changes to electoral laws a few hours before his notice announcing an election date.

But Veritas said the amendments to the electoral laws that Mugabe would have made are superseded by the election notice rendering them invalid.

"So whatever deficiencies there may be in the amendments, the election will have to be held in accordance with them," it said.

Tsvangirai, who won the 2008 first round of elections but failed to gain a majority to form a government, has repeatedly demanded reforms in the pro-Mugabe police and military widely blamed for state-orchestrated violence in previous elections.

He was forced to boycott the second round of voting, citing widespread intimidation and threats against his supporters.

406

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Assam officials upset that WWII-era Stillwell Road won't be used in transnational highway linking four Asian nations.
Informal health centres are treating thousands of Syrian refugees in Turkey, easing the pressure on local hospitals.
Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are keeping a close eye on local supporters of the hard-line Middle East group.
Wastewater ponds dot the landscape in US states that produce gas; environmentalists say they’re a growing threat.
China President Xi Jinping's Mongolia visit brings accords in the areas of culture, energy, mining and infrastructure.
join our mailing list