Mugabe fast-tracks election laws, by-passes parliament

HARARE Thu Jun 13, 2013 6:03am EDT

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe signs Zimbabwe's new constitution into law in the capital Harare, replacing a 33-year-old document forged in the dying days of British colonial rule and paving the way for elections later this year, May 22, 2013. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe signs Zimbabwe's new constitution into law in the capital Harare, replacing a 33-year-old document forged in the dying days of British colonial rule and paving the way for elections later this year, May 22, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo

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HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe fast-tracked changes to electoral laws on Thursday, using a presidential decree to by-pass parliament in a bid to comply with a constitutional court order to hold elections by July 31.

The move is likely to enrage his opponents in a unity government, especially Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party which wants a delay to allow for reform of the media and security forces.

Mugabe has been pushing for early elections, saying the unity government formed in 2009 after violent and disputed vote the previous year has outlived its tenure.

"Given the deadline imposed by the Constitutional Court, it is inexpedient to await the passage through Parliament of an act dealing with the situation," Mugabe said in an official government notice.

The amended electoral laws ensure that all political parties have access to the state broadcaster and that the results of elections will be posted outside polling centers.

(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Ed Cropley)

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