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Zimbabwe Coalition Teeters As Mugabe Pushes For Elections

Zimbabwe's artificial coalition is teetering as President Mugabe's party wants to move up elections.
By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 2/7/2012, 5:43 AM

According to the agreement brokered by the South African Development Community (SADC), a coalition was set up in Zimbabwe. Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Democratic Movement for Change (DMC,) serves as the Prime Minister to Robert Mugabe the President.

Mugabe's party ZANU-PF wants to end the coalition and go to immediate elections. The MDC claims that under the agreement, new elections cannot take place before 2013 and that it is impossible to go to new elections unless there are reforms to assure that the elections will not be stolen - and that the Army and the police will not be used to intimidate the opposition. In short, they want a new constitution.

It is not that the coalition actually functioned. When the 87-yearMugabe came back from his vacation he immediately called a meeting of the country's National Security Council without consulting the Prime Minister. Mugabe insisted that the police commissioner general,one of his henchmen and enforcers  - whose term of office had expired - should attend the meeting.

Despite the coalition Mugabe effectively runs the country, so what is the hurry about new elections? Some members of his party claim the election talk is meant to keep the party members on their toes and keep the party electoral machinery cranked up.

Another reason being suggested is that Robert Mugabe is very distressed by what happened in the Ivory Coast and Libya and is afraid that he too will be a prospective victim of Western intervention. Zimbabwe has refused to recognize the National Transition Council in Libya and Mugabe was scathingly critical of the African Union for its failure to prevent Western intervention in both countries.

Another reason for speeding up the election process is Mugabe's age and the persistent rumors that he is fighting cancer. His party is rent by factionalism and he is the only unifying force in the party. It would therefore be preferable to stage elections and then have Mugabe designate his successor.