May 12, 2011 / 8:21 AM / 8 years ago

Mugabe party insists on 2011 Zimbabwe elections

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe addresses delegates at the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) annual People's Conference in Bindura about 90 km (56 miles) north of the capital Harare, December 19, 2008. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

HARARE (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe’s party will press for elections in Zimbabwe this year, state media reported on Thursday, in a move set to trigger a fresh dispute with its partners in a fragile unity government.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who formed a power-sharing administration with rival Mugabe two years ago after disputed 2008 elections, has ruled out a fresh poll this year, saying constitutional and political reforms must come first.

The uneasy unity government has brought a measure stability to the impoverished state holding the world’s second-largest platinum reserves. Early elections could stamp out a nascent recovery and renew political violence, analysts have said.

ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo told the Herald newspaper that his party expected constitutional reforms to be concluded this year in time for fresh elections.

“There is no change in the position of the party,” Gumbo was quoted as saying, repeating a position taken by ZANU-PF at a conference last December.

The next elections would have been due in 2013 under a deal reached by the unity government.

Last week, Tsvangirai said he expects Zimbabwe to go to elections within 12 months in a free and fair environment.

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