Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court rejected a series of government appeals to delay a July 31 general election in order to allow more time for reform of the security forces and state media.
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku declined to give reasons for the court’s unanimous rejection of the requests, lodged after the regional South African Development Community (SADC) said a delay was needed to lay the ground for a credible vote.
“For the avoidance of doubt, elections should proceed on the 31st of July in terms of the proclamation by the President of Zimbabwe in compliance with the order of this court,” Chidyausiku said, Reuters reports.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the main rival to long-serving President Robert Mugabe, would abide by the decision even though his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party had been pushing hard for a delay of at least two weeks, his spokesman said.
“Since the court has ruled, it means we have to go by that date,” Tsvangirai spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka said.
Zimbabwe adopted a new constitution this year in a trouble-free referendum backed by both Mugabe and Tsvangirai.
However, the haste with which it has set an election date has increased fears of a repeat of the violence and bloodshed that marred a 2008 vote.