1 July 2008

Zimbabwe: SADC Observer Mission Says Elections Were Undemocratic

Sharm el-Shaikh — The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Observer Mission has announced that the process leading up to the Zimbabwe presidential run-off elections did not conform to its principles and guidelines governing democratic elections.

A report presented by Angolan Minister of Youth and Sport, Jose Marcos Barrica, who headed the SADC election observer mission in Zimbabwe, noted that the pre-election phase was characterised by politically motivated violence, intimidation and displacements.

"Based on the above mentioned observations, the mission is of the view that the prevailing environment impinged on the credibility of the electoral process.

"The election did not represent the will of the people of Zimbabwe," Mr Barrica said.

On Sunday, Robert Mugabe was sworn in as President of Zimbabwe following a one-man Presidential run-off election held on Friday.

Opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai had withdrawn citing violence against his supporters.

The SADC mission has since pledged its support and solidarity to the people of Zimbabwe during this time.

"We strongly recommend that SADC mediation efforts should be continued in order to assist the people and leadership of Zimbabwe to resolve the problems they are facing and bring the country to normality," said Mr Barrica.

Mr Barrica said the period leading up to the run-off was also charectarised by politically motivated violence, resulting in loss of lives, damage to property, and serious injuries sustained during political activities.

"All role players have acknowledged the existence of politically motivated violence but differed regarding the nature, extent, causes and origins of this violence as well as its impact on the electoral process," he said.

He added that on numerous occasions, victims of politically motivated violence alleged that the security forces did little to stop the violence or arrest the perpetrators.

The violence was most acute in Mashonaland East, West and Central, Manicaland, Masvingo, and Harare.

"This politically motivated violence has led to the internal displacements of persons and impacted negatively on the full participation of citizens in the political process and their freedom of association."

On 25 June, the SADC mission had issued a statement expressing deep concern at the widespread politically motivated violence and appealed to the relevant authorities, particularly supporters of political parties, to refrain from all forms of violence.

The mission had also urged the law enforcement agencies to ensure that there was law and order in the country.

President Robert Mugabe is currently in Sharm-El-Shaikh, Egypt, attending the AU Heads of State Assembly.

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