Zimbabwe 'bars' EU and US from observing polls

A Zimbabwean votes in the 2008 election A referendum will take place next Saturday

Zimbabwe says it is not inviting Western observers to the constitutional referendum and elections due this year.

Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi told the state-owned Herald newspaper that EU and US observers lacked objectivity.

Zimbabwe is due to hold a referendum on 16 March on a constitution that will limit presidential powers.

It will be followed by elections, ending the coalition between Mr Mugabe and his rival, Morgan Tsvangirai.

'Up in smoke'

Start Quote

I do not see why they need to be invited when they have never invited us to monitor theirs”

End Quote Simbarashe Mumbengegwi Zimbabwe's FM

The two, aged 89 and 60 respectively, will run against each other in the election, after reaching a deal over a constitution that they have urged voters to endorse in the referendum.

Mr Mumbengegwi said Western observers would not be welcome because of sanctions the European Union (EU) and US had imposed on Mr Mugabe and other top officials from his Zanu-PF party over alleged human rights abuses.

"To be an observer, you have to be objective and once you impose sanctions on one party, your objectivity goes up in smoke," Mr Mumbengegwi, a Zanu-PF member, is quoted as saying.

"I do not see why they need to be invited when they have never invited us to monitor theirs."

Mr Mumbengegwi said Zimbabwe had already invited observers from the African Union (AU) and two regional bodies, the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), to monitor the referendum.

The EU and US imposed sanctions on Mr Mugabe and his inner circle after accusing them of unleashing violence and rigging previous election to prevent Mr Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) from taking power.

Morgan Tsvangirai (l) and Robert Mugabe (r)  in Harare on 17 January 2013 Prime Minister Tsvangirai (L) and President Mugabe have been in a fractious coalition for four years

The conflict ended after Zanu-PF and the MDC agreed to form a coalition government under pressure from regional leaders.

Under the new constitution, the president who wins this year's election, expected to be held in July, will be able to serve a maximum of two terms.

Mr Mugabe has been in power since independence in 1980.

Last month, Deputy Justice Minister Obert Gutu said there had been an arson attack on the home of MDC activist Shepherd Maisiri in the eastern farming district of Headlands, causing the death of his 12-year-old son, Christpower.

Mr Gutu, an MDC member, blamed supporters of Zanu-PF for the attack and said it did not bode well for a peaceful referendum and election.

A Zanu-PF spokesman said the attack was an attempt to discredit his party.

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Africa stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Man holding lipWitch hunt

    The country where a writer accused of blasphemy must run


  • Espresso cupNews quiz

    Which city serves the strongest cup of coffee?


  • Malaysian plane wreckage in UkraineFlight risk

    How odd is it to have three plane crashes in eight days?


  • Irvine WelshDeaf ears

    Five famous Scots who can't vote in the Scottish referendum


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Canada.Hidden rail trip

    Canada's tiny, two-car shuttle is a train lover's dream with scenic views

Programmes

  • Leader of Hamas Khaled MeshaalHARDtalk Watch

    BBC exclusive: Hamas leader on the eagerness to end bloodshed in Gaza

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.