, HARARE, Feb 13 – Zimbabwe elections chief has resigned ahead of crucial polls this year citing ill health, local media reported Wednesday.
Retired Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe took up his post in March 2010, two years after President Robert Mugabe won elections marred by bloodshed and intimidation.
The vote led to international outcry and pressure which forced Mugabe into a power sharing government.
“He tendered his resignation to President Robert Mugabe and his excellency accepted it. The resignation is on the grounds of health,” Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa was quoted as saying by the Herald newspaper.
Chinamasa said he is consulting with Mugabe and his rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to find a “suitable replacement”.
Zimbabwe is expected to hold a constitutional referendum and elections later this year, which will end the shaky coalition, but no dates have been set.
The two main political parties — Mugabe’s ZANU-PF and Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change — have said they support the adoption of the draft charter.
But the MDC has said it would want more reforms in the media, security and electoral sectors for the southern African country to hold free and fair elections.
The MDC has complained that election body is staffed by state security operatives who support Mugabe’s ZANU-PF and called for fresh recruitment of employees.
Mutambanengwe is a former High Court judge who has also served on the Namibian Supreme Court bench before his appointment to the elections body.