Tuesday, March 05, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Zim rejects call for international monitors

Zim rejects call for international monitors
04/03/2013 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter I AFP

THE government on Monday rebuffed calls for international observers to be allowed to monitor crunch upcoming elections. "Zimbabwe will not allow countries that imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe to participate as observers," at the election -- slated for July -- Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi was quoted by local radio as saying.

“One cannot observe anything in a country that they are hostile to. The level of hostility is measured by the relationship those countries have with Zimbabwe and clearly those countries that have imposed sanctions on us will not be here,” he said.

“To be an observer, you have to be objective and once you impose sanctions on one party, your objectivity goes up in smoke. If you are not objective, you are not entitled to observe elections anywhere and that is the situation with those Western countries.”

His comment would rule out the participation of European, US or other western observers in monitoring the crucial poll, amid ominous signs of political violence ahead of the vote.
Mumbengegwi instead called for sanctions to be removed "unconditionally and in their totality".

“We have taken a position that sanctions should go without any condition and the idea of suspending sanctions is not acceptable to the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.

“We have done nothing wrong and this is an issue where we differ. They are talking of suspension and I do not even know what suspended sanctions look like.”

The European Union last month eased sanctions against Zimbabwe, but the United States has said it will only end restrictions after more reforms.

Mumbengegwi's comments represent a snap reaction to Swedish international development minister, Gunilla Carlsson, who during a visit to Harare on Monday called for monitors to be admitted.

"We think it is a very good idea to have international observers. It's helpful for outcome of the elections to know that there has been international group standards," she said after meeting Mumbengegwi and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

“(Sweden) would be happy to take part in such a process and see that international standards are met. For them to be met, the elections have to be monitored by people with experience to do this kind of work.

“We have supported the constitution making process and we have to play a part in the elections. We would be happy if we are invited, but it is up to Zimbabwe to decide because they know the kind of assistance they need.”

The elections are part of a complex roadmap to put the country back on a stable footing after a series of votes marred by violence, intimidation and economic hardship.

On March 16 Zimbabweans will vote on a new constitution which is expected to underpin fairer elections.

But already a series of arrests and deaths have raised questions about whether supporters of President Robert Mugabe will chose the baton or the ballot box.

Radio stations have been raided, members of non-governmental groups have arrested and the son of an opposition leader has died in a suspected firebomb attack.
Zimbabwe police have found foul play was not involved in a house fire that killed the 12-year-old.

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