An ally of Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was re-elected Speaker of Parliament in a bitter political battle against President Robert Mugabe’s party ahead of a possible general election.
The post became vacant after the Supreme Court nullified the election of Lovemore Moyo from Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party two weeks ago because the original vote in 2008, after disputed parliamentary elections, did not follow proper procedures.
Moyo was re-elected as speaker with 105 votes, defeating the ZANU-PF candidate Simon Khaya Moyo who drew 93 votes, Reuters reports.
“This victory gives us an opportunity to continue to democratise and modernise our parliamentary portfolio committees,” Moyo said after the vote.
The position of Speaker of Parliament is crucial in Zimbabwe’s finely balanced lower House of Assembly which makes national laws, and is of symbolic value ahead of elections Mugabe is pushing to be held this year.
The Supreme Court ruling has heightened tensions in the fragile unity government formed two years ago and comes at a time Mugabe’s ZANU-PF is pushing for presidential and parliamentary elections this year.
The next elections are due in 2013 and Tsvangirai has threatened to boycott the vote if it is held without a new constitution and electoral reforms.
The MDC says Mugabe’s election plans could lead to a repeat of political violence witnessed in 2008 which led to Tsvangirai not contesting a run-off presidential vote.
Mugabe was forced to share power with Tsvangirai after a disputed election run-off marred by violence but while the coalition has managed to stabilise the economy, the parties remain divided on policy and how to share power.