US govt raises concern over Zim poll preps

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THE United States (US) this week sent a clear signal it will not recognise the credibility of Zimbabwe’s July 31 general elections saying  it is “deeply concerned” by lack of transparency in the run-up to the polls.

Herbert Moyo

According to wire reports on Tuesday, US State Department spokesperson Patrick Ventrell said America is concerned and disappointed that preparations for the elections have not followed the Sadc roadmap which prescribed a raft of electoral, media and security reforms that would ensure a smooth poll.

“We are deeply concerned about the lack of transparency in electoral preparations; the continued partisan behaviour by state security institutions and the technical, logistical issues hampering the administration of a credible and transparent election,” Ventrell told a media briefing.

He further emphasised the need for the Zimbabwean government to ensure the vote will be peaceful and fair, adding that a poll which lacks credibility will have implications for US sanctions against Zimbabwe.

While the European Union (EU) has shown willingness to engage the Zanu PF arm of government by lifting travel restrictions and other so-called targeted measures, the US has steadfastly refused to entertain calls to lift sanctions, insisting everything depends on credible polls.

President Robert Mugabe has retaliated by refusing the US and other western countries permission to observe the polls. The US appears determined to put pressure on Sadc and the African Union (AU) to ensure Mugabe does not get away with a flawed election.

“We call on the government, Sadc and the AU to accept nothing short of internationally accepted standards of electoral credibility, fairness and transparency,” Ventrell said.

For their part, Sadc and the AU have sent observers with Mugabe’s fierce critic and western neighbour Botswana sending 200 out of the regional bloc’s 600 observers.

The AU is sending a 60-member monitoring team to be led by former South African and Nigerian presidents Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo respectively.

Ventrell warned that a flawed election will undermine the political and economic progress Zimbabwe had made since the formation of a coalition government in the aftermath of the disputed 2008 elections.

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