Zimbabwe’s highest court on Friday ordered President Robert Mugabe to hold elections by the end of July, chiding the longtime leader for what it said was a “violation of his duties” in not proclaiming a date for the vote earlier.
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku said the election date should be linked to the automatic dissolution of Zimbabwe’s parliament on June 29 at the end of its current five-year term.
A new constitution, overwhelmingly accepted in a March 16 referendum, requires amendments to electoral laws and voting procedures that lawyers’ groups say need about two months to complete.
Veritas, an independent legal research group, said Friday that the court’s July date is impractical.
A lawsuit was brought to the court on May 24 to force Mugabe to call early polls. The private court application claimed the country could not be run without the existence of the parliament, rendering the government illegal.
But Veritas said the constitution allows for the executive arm and government ministries to continue operating without a sitting parliament for up to four months after the legislature dissolves on June 29.
Chidyausiku, sitting alongside eight senior judges in the constitutional court, said their ruling ordered elections to be held by July 31. He described Mugabe’s failure to announce the election date as “a violation of his duties.”
Two judges dissented.
Read more: ABC