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Zim polls under the radar

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The Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa) says the forthcoming elections in both Zimbabwe and Kenya should be closely monitored and “not leave anything to chance” to ensure credible polls.

Report by Nqobile Bhebhe Senior Reporter

Elections in both countries are due next year and Comesa is ready to dispatch a team of elders to monitor the pre-poll period.

According to a Comesa newsletter on the ongoing 16th Heads of State and Government Summit in Uganda, secretary-general Sindiso Ngwenya said although next year’s elections were likely to be more peaceful than the previous one, nothing should be left to chance.

“While we welcome and encourage the interest and support of their (pre-assessment missions) intervention, we are all too aware that this interest has not always been perceived as supporting the best interest of the region,” said Ngwenya in a speech read on his behalf by assistant secretary-general, Nagla El-Hussainy.

He was addressing the Third Retreat of Comesa Committee convened to plan for pre-election assessment missions in Zimbabwe and Kenya.

Said Ngwenya: “If people believe that something is true then it becomes true to them. To that end, we believe it is important to show the people of both countries that Africa and our region independently support credible elections in both these countries.”

Ngwenya urged the elders to ensure that they maintain the highest standards of integrity as they assess the preparedness of both countries towards holding the credibility of African-led and African-owned initiatives.

“Given the importance of these two countries to Comesa, which have collectively contributed to 20% of the total intra-Comesa trade since 2000, and also given that the post violence in Kenya took most of us by surprise, it is important that we launch these missions and not leave anything to chance,” he said.

“This can be achieved by pointing out any gaps and calling a spade a spade, while at the same time commending areas where they have made progress.”

He said he hoped the researchers and the media personnel would ensure that all issues that had the potential to undermine the credibility of elections were adequately addressed.

Deadly clashes erupted after voting in the December 2007 polls in Kenya and left more than 1 000 people dead and 600 000 others internally displaced.

Zimbabwe experienced pre-and post-election violence of an almost similar nature.

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