FORMER Liberian leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is heading to Harare, leading an observer mission under the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI).
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
In a joint statement, the two organisations said Johnson Sirleaf will co-lead the joint international observer delegation for the July 30 Zimbabwe elections.
She will be joined by United States Congresswoman Karen Bass and former US Assistant Secretary Connie Berry Newman and Ambassador Johnnie Carson.
In accepting the appointment, Liberia’s first elected female President said the elections provide Zimbabwe with a chance to make a clean break with the past.
“These elections provide an opportunity for Zimbabwe to make a clear break with its past that would be significant not only for the Zimbabwean people, but for all of Africa,” she said.
Congresswoman Bass added: “I am delighted to be part of the leadership of this joint IRI-NDI international election observation mission. We hope our presence will help contribute to more credible elections.”
IRI and NDI will bring 22 observers, who will be arriving tomorrow and will join the 25 long-term staff who are currently in Zimbabwe, including 14 long-term observers covering all 10 provinces of Zimbabwe.
“The IRI-NDI observation efforts, which began with an in-country presence on April 23, also included a June 3-8 pre-election assessment mission, which issued a detailed statement at the conclusion of the mission that set forth 13 recommended steps for enhancing public confidence in the electoral process,” the statement said.
IRI and NDI have organised more than 200 international election observation missions around the globe, earning a reputation for impartiality and professionalism.
The joint statement said in Zimbabwe, the IRI-NDI mission will conduct activities in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and Code of Conduct launched at the United Nations in 2005.
“And (it) will base its findings on international standards for elections. The mission’s approach is consistent with regional instruments to which Zimbabwe is a signatory, including the African Union Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa and the Sadc Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.
“All activities will be conducted on a strictly independent and nonpartisan basis, without interfering in the election process and in conformity with the laws of Zimbabwe,” the two groups said.