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AU said Zimbabwe elections fell short of accepted standards

The head of the African Union observer mission to the presidential elections run-off of 2008, former Sierra Leone President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, said the elections fell short of the accepted AU standards.

But he was encouraged that both parties had shown willingness to engage in constructive dialogue as a way forward to ensure peace, stability and development in Zimbabwe.

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of the elections one week before the poll because of violence during the campaign.

In his preliminary report Kabbah pointed out the following:

  1. Polling day was peaceful and held in accordance with the electoral laws of Zimbabwe,
  2. There was violence in the run down to the elections,
  3. The fear of violence deterred popular participation in the electoral process, and
  4. There was no equitable access to the public media.

Asked to explain how the election fell “short” of election standards, a Gambian observer said that in 19 of the 20 polling places he visited, the presiding officer didn’t know how many voters were registered to vote at that constituency.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08HARARE573, AU ISSUES WEAK STATEMENT ON ZIM ELECTIONS

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE573

2008-06-30 14:31

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO6510

OO RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0573/01 1821431

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 301431Z JUN 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO IMMEDIATE 0025

RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3110

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2104

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2224

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0762

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1501

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1859

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2280

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4711

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1370

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000573

 

SIPDIS

 

CAIRO PLEASE PASS TO A/S FRAZER

AF/S FOR S. HILL

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/30/2018

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM KDEM AU ZI

SUBJECT: AU ISSUES WEAK STATEMENT ON ZIM ELECTIONS

 

REF: HARARE 546

 

Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4(d).

 

——

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) The African Union (AU) election observer mission

issued its preliminary report on Zimbabwe’s June 27 run-off

election at a press conference on June 30. The statement

says the election “fell short of accepted AU standards,” but

is significantly weaker than reports issued by the Pan

African Parliament (PAP) and the South African Development

Community (SADC) on June 28. PAP concluded that the election

was not free, fair, or credible. SADC stated that the

environment of politically motivated violence and

intimidation impinged on the credibility of the electoral

process and that the election did not reflect the will of the

Zimbabwean people. Allegations that the AU observer mission

head, former Sierra Leone president Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, was

at State House visiting Mugabe “every day,” and is a close

friend of Mugabe, call the AU mission’s credibility into

question. END SUMMARY.

 

—————–

Weak AU Criticism

—————–

 

2. (U) In a briefing on June 30, Kabbah stated that the AU

had deployed observers to each of Harare’s 10 provinces. The

relatively short preliminary report notes that: “(1) polling

day was peaceful and held in accordance with the electoral

laws of Zimbabwe, (2) there was violence in the run down to

the elections, (3) the fear of violence deterred popular

participation in the electoral process, and (4) there was no

equitable access to the public media.” The report concludes

that the “election process fell short of accepted AU

standards” and the AU is “encouraged that both parties have

shown willingness to engage in constructive dialogue as a way

forward for ensuring peace, stability, and development in

Zimbabwe.” The final report will be sent to the AU which

will then present it to the Zimbabwean government.

 

3. (U) In response to journalists’ questions, Kabbah said

that he “personally” did not see acts of violence. He argued

that it was a “coincidence” he was present at the polling

station when Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe voted on June

27. Kabbah said he was “impressed” that people had voted and

that the voting day itself was “not violent.”

 

4. (U) Asked to explain how the election fell “short” of

election standards, as stated in the preliminary report, a

Gambian observer seated next to Kabbah said that in 19 of the

20 polling places he visited, the presiding officer didn’t

know how many voters were registered to vote at that

constituency. When pressed for additional examples, Kabbah

defended the weak response, saying, “He just gave you an

example.” Kabbah displayed his ignorance of the electoral

process when, in response to questions, indicated he did not

know why MDC candidate Morgan Tsvangirai had withdrawn from

the election. (NOTE: Tsvangirai’s justification for pulling

out — widespread violence and unfair conditions — was

widely reported. END NOTE)

 

—————————–

Dissension among AU observers

—————————–

 

5. (C) After the report was distributed, emboff spoke

 

HARARE 00000573 002 OF 002

 

 

outside with some of the younger AU observers. They reported

widespread dissension among observers and said that the

preliminary statement was actually stronger than what Kabbah

had wanted. They also said they knew that Kabbah was

“visiting his friend Mugabe” at State House every day and

that they had been offered trips to Victoria Falls by the

Zimbabwean government.

 

—————————————-

Weak compared to SADC and PAP statements

—————————————-

 

6. (C) SADC and PAP both issued their more critical

statements on Sunday June 29. PAP detailed the unfairness of

the electoral process, and concluded that conditions leading

to the June 27 election did not give rise to free, fair, or

credible elections. SADC concluded that while election day

was peaceful, the prevailing environment “impinged on the

credibility of the electoral process” and that “the elections

did not represent the will of the people of Zimbabwe.”

 

—————————————

Precedent for AU election observations?

—————————————

 

7. (C) COMMENT: In this highly publicized, contentious, and

important election, it is deeply disturbing that the AU’s

statement, as compared to those of PAP and SADC, is

superficial and barely critical. Kabbah’s coziness with

Mugabe, including his smiling image in the press as he

watched Mugabe vote, further serve to undermine the

credibility of the AU Mission and its reporting. END COMMENT.

 

McGee

(7 VIEWS)

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