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Row erupts over election observers

SHARP differences have emerged among the three political parties that form Zimbabwe’s transitional coalition government over the invitation of Western poll observers as the referendum and crucial general elections approach.

Report by Elias Mambo

Vice-President Joice Mujuru has declared Zimbabwe would only allow regional observers from southern Africa to monitor elections to prevent Western powers from meddling in the country’s internal political processes.

“Why should we be monitored by other countries outside Sadc when we are a sovereign state?” asked Mujuru.

Mujuru’s utterances have been trashed by the MDC formations who say credible elections can only take place under the monitoring of international observers.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC wants international referendum observers to remain in the country until the watershed elections around mid-year.

MDC-T secretary-general and Finance minister Tendai Biti said his party would ensure international election observers are invited and remain in the country even after the referendum.

“We want Sadc to make sure that referendum observers are allowed to remain in the country up to the time we hold our elections,” said Biti.

“This election is critical and international observers will ensure Zimbabwe does not go back to the unforgettable 2008 political crisis.”

The 2008 presidential run-off became a sham after MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out citing violence against his supporters, which led to an inconclusive result and formation of the current inclusive government.

MDC-T has previously called for international observers to be deployed in Zimbabwe six months before and six months after elections to ensure violence-free elections and peaceful aftermath.

MDC spokesperson Nhlanhla Dube said his party would participate in elections monitored by observers who share the same democratic interests with Zimbabwe regardless of where they come from.

“As a country moving towards democracy, we want those with the same democratic interests as us to come and scrutinise our elections,” Dube said.

However, European Union ambassador to Zimbabwe Aldo Dell’Ariccia told the Zimbabwe Independent on Monday that EU election observers are still waiting for Zimbabwe’s invitation.

“We do not impose ourselves or force governments to invite us to observe their elections,” Dell’Ariccia said. “We wait for the government to send an invitation and this has to have a timeframe because we need time for observers to come and observe activities leading to the elections,” he said.


























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