Friday, April 22, 2011

(NEWZIMBABWE) Sanctions threat to election roadmap

Sanctions threat to election roadmap
by Staff Reporter
22/04/2011 00:00:00

ZIMBABWE’S three main parties said they had agreed broad rules for the holding of free and fair elections, but disputes remained far from resolved after Zanu PF anchored its adherence to the pact on the lifting of western sanctions on the country.

Negotiators from President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party, and the two MDC factions led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Industry Minister Welshman Ncube, met on Wednesday and Thursday to hammer out the agreement aimed at lifting obstacles to free and fair elections.

The parties agreed that a new constitution must be in place before elections are held; that a travel ban on Mugabe’s supporters and trade sanctions on state-owned companies be lifted and a raft of amendments must be made to the Electoral Act.

But the MDC factions said they could not agree with Zanu PF negotiators over security sector reforms. The MDC negotiators wanted police powers to stop political rallies curtailed and a commitment by Zanu PF -- which maintains a stranglehold on the army and police -- that soldiers would not be deployed in rural communities or play a part in the electoral process.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Zanu PF’s top negotiator, emerged from Thursday’s talks to declare that they had “finalised the election roadmap”.

“We produced a report that we signed and would be submitted to the three principals [Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Ncube] and the South African facilitation team after the Easter Holiday," he said.

"The report identifies activities that had to be undertaken before elections are held. These are: the lifting of sanctions; completion of the constitution-making process and enactment of amendments to the Electoral Act. Those are some of the critical issues.”

Elton Mangoma, a negotiator from Tsvangirai’s party, said: “We disagreed on security reforms and deployment of soldiers in rural areas during elections."

The MDC parties also say they want election observers from the regional trade bloc, SADC, to be in Zimbabwe six months before and after elections. They also want retired soldiers taken off the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

The six negotiators, two from each party, travel to South Africa on May 6 for two-day talks with President Jacob Zuma’s facilitation team which has been mediating in Zimbabwe after former President Thabo Mbeki nudged Mugabe into sharing power with his rivals following disputed elections in 2008.

Should the parties finally find common ground on all aspects of the roadmap, a SADC summit set for May 20 in Namibia will rubberstamp the agreement.

Zanu PF’s insistence on the lifting of western sanctions could yet turn out to be a deal breaker. Western countries, led by Britain and the United States, have previously resisted calls by regional leaders to lift the embargo which includes travel restrictions on Mugabe and over a 100 of his close aides accused of human rights abuses.

Mugabe’s rivals fear the sanctions clause could be used by Zanu PF to break off from the roadmap and call early elections if the embargo is not lifted.

Mugabe has previously said he wants elections this year, but he has shown more flexibility in recent weeks by reaffirming his party’s commitment to the constitution reform exercise.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home