Wednesday, September 11, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) UK wants independent election probe
22/08/2013 00:00:00
by Agencies

BRITIAN said the result of the July 31 election was not credible without an independent investigation of alleged vote-rigging, as Robert Mugabe prepared to be sworn in for another term as president on Thursday.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai launched the legal challenge, alleging up to a million eligible voters were excluded and demanding that electoral rolls be released.

He condemned the election as "a farce", but in a surprise U-turn last week, Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) withdrew the petition, saying he would not get a fair hearing.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "I am extremely concerned that the MDC-T had to withdraw its legal challenge due to concerns over the independence of the judiciary.

"I strongly believe that an independent investigation of any allegations of election irregularities would be required for the election result to be deemed credible."

Hague reiterated that he had "grave concerns" over the conduct of the election and the "flaws" highlighted in the initial assessments of the South African Development Community (SADC) and African Union (AU) observation missions.

"There is strong evidence that these elections fell short of SADC's own guidelines and the Zimbabwean electoral law," he said in a statement.
"We are concerned about the potential implications for the region."

Meanwhile, the European Union would also review relations with Zimbabwe given its "serious concerns" about the conduct of the elections, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Thursday.

The EU's verdict on the fairness of the elections will be crucial to a decision on whether it continues to ease sanctions against Zimbabwe. Ashton did not broach the issue of such sanctions in her statement.

Ashton said the 28-member EU shared the "serious concerns" raised in the initial assessment of the election by the Southern African Development Community, African Union and domestic observers.

"The EU underlines the importance and need to continue strengthening reforms to ensure that future elections are fully transparent and credible as well as peaceful," she said.

"The EU will review its relations with Zimbabwe, taking account of all these factors."
The United States said earlier this week it believed the vote was flawed and did not plan to loosen sanctions.

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