Zim announced election observers

Wow, shocking news from Zim, Mugabe bans Westerns observers from this month's elections!!!!

From SW Radio Africa

Robert Mugabe's regime announced Thursday it will bar Western observers from coming into the country to monitor the March 29 joint presidential and parliamentary elections.

Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi told diplomats at a meeting in Harare that they have not invited any of the countries they feel believe free and fair elections can only be won by the opposition. The United States, United Kingdom and the European Union in general have all been listed in this category. The Minister said diplomats from these countries who were already in the country could apply for clearance to monitor the elections. Russia is the only country from Europe to be officially invited.

State media announced that 47 organisations drawn from Africa, South America and Asia have been invited to observe the elections because government feels they are objective and impartial in their relationship with Zimbabwe. Brazil, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Jamaica, China, Malaysia, India and Iran are some of the countries to be given 'observer' status. A total of 23 African countries have been invited and these include all 13 SADC countries, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Libya, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, Algeria and Senegal. The move has not surprised many given that in 2002 a delegation from the European Union led by Sweden's Pierre Schori was expelled by the regime after being accused of bias.

The idea behind the tactic has always been to invite so-called 'friendly' nations who for one reason or other have not been hard hitting in their criticism of the regime. SADC countries have traditionally shown a tendency to fear criticising Mugabe and this seems to be the idea in the cherry picking of observers. Analysts say another part of the strategy is to create a racial divide in perceptions of the crisis. By banning western countries Mugabe is hoping to create the impression they are the only nations that consider elections to be rigged in Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile Minister Mumbengegwi sought to pre-empt allegations of political violence and intimidation coming from the opposition by telling diplomats, 'You are the resident ambassadors here; you know this country. All those who do not expect to win the elections would want to discredit the process. Therefore, you will come across all sorts of allegations in volumes and volumes. My appeal to you is please try your best to ensure that any allegation that is made is verified. We think that is the role you should play," the Minister said. His remarks however betray reports the ruling party is employing bullyboy tactics against the MDC. The opposition say their complaints are being ignored by the police who in some instances are behind the harassment and intimidation.



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