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Zimbabwe court postpones election date hearing


08:31, June 27, 2013

HARARE, June 26 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe's top court on Wednesday decided to postpone hearing cases on the country's election date, an issue at the center of the rising tensions between major political camps.

President Robert Mugabe had proclaimed July 31 as election date, with June 28 set aside as nomination day.

Mugabe's rivals in the inclusive government, Tsvangirai and Ncube, made representations to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) opposing the president's proclamation, and the regional bloc asked Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa to approach the court to extend the poll date by two weeks.

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku on Wednesday postponed indefinitely the hearing of Chinamasa's application, saying the court will prioritize two new applications filed by Tsvangirai and Ncube and meet all the political parties concerned to schedule a hearing.

In papers submitted to the top court, Tsvangirai and Ncube said they want their applications to be consolidated into Chinamasa's application and seek the Constitutional Court to review its order to have elections before July 31, 2013.

The two, who were not satisfied with Chinamasa's application, also seek to invalidate Mugabe's proclamation on the election date.

Tsvangirai argues that the two-week extension was insufficient to deal with his MDC-T party's reform agenda and there is a need to prevent a "legitimacy deficit" which would plunge the country into further uncertainty.

The top court, in postponing the hearing of two other cases related to the election date, hints that the cases can be heard together possible on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Nomination Court is sitting this Friday to receive names of aspiring candidates and legal experts, saying this would happen as planned with no impact whatsoever from the postponement of the election date hearing.

Zimbabwe's last general elections in 2008 were marred by disputes and violence that leaders from three political camps including Mugabe and Tsvangirai were forced into a unity government brokered by SADC. The upcoming elections are set to end the unity government and pick a president that will preside until 2018, according to the country's new constitution.

Mugabe, Africa's oldest ruler at 89, is seeking another five years to his 33-year rule of the country since independence. His major challenger is prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

In another development, the Constitutional Court on Wednesday ruled that dual citizenship was now allowed under the new constitution, provided both parents of the person concerned are Zimbabwean citizens.

"This ruling is important because it is going to allow those in the Diaspora to register to vote," said lawyer Fadzai Mahere.

Diaspora – Zimbabweans who live overseas – were not permitted to participate in last elections. There are estimatedly 2 million Zimbabweans living overseas, many driven out of the country during the decade-long economic stagnation to find decent jobs.

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