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Observers concerned about delay in releasing results

Although the Southern African Development Community and the Pan African Parliament observer missions said the 29 March elections had been credible they were disturbed by the delay in releasing the results as this was part of the election process.

Civil society expressed concern about the views of the two observer missions as there were reports of pre-election and post-election rigging.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08HARARE269, A CREDIBLE PROCESS? ELECTION OBSERVERS WEIGH IN

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE269

2008-04-02 17:22

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

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ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 021722Z APR 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2676

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1897

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1869

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1992

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0565

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1269

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1626

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2048

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4479

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1119

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC//DHO-7//

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

RUAEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK//DOOC/ECMO/CC/DAO/DOB/DOI//

RUZEHAA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE//ECJ23-CH/ECJ5M//

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000269

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

AF/S DESK OFFICER S. HILL

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

USAID FOR L.DOBBINS AND E. LOKEN

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL ZI ASEC

SUBJECT: A CREDIBLE PROCESS? ELECTION OBSERVERS WEIGH IN

 

 

1. (U) SUMMARY: In the days following Zimbabwe,s national

election, two independent observation missions — SADC and

the Pan African Parliament (PAP) — released preliminary

evaluations of the election. Despite noting serious

irregularities in the pre-electoral environment, both

missions deemed the election day processes credible and in

accordance with standards set by regional bodies. In light of

the projection of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network

(ZESN) that Morgan Tsvangirai would come first in the

presidential race, along with reports by civil society and

the MDC of pre-election rigging and post-election delays,

SADC’s findings were widely criticized by opposition and

civil society stakeholders. PAP,s statement, which noted

concerns over the delay in releasing the final results, was

better received. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (SBU) On March 30, one day after voting and well ahead of

the release of any results, the Southern African Development

Community’s (SADC) observer mission, comprised of 163

representatives from 11 of the 13 member states and chaired

by Angolan Minister of Youth and Sports Jose Marcos Barrica,

issued its preliminary statement on the election at a press

conference in Harare. The chairman stated that despite

problems in the pre-election process, the elections “have

been a peaceful and credible expression of the will of the

Zimbabwean people,” in accordance with SADC guidelines for

democratic elections. SADC’s sentiments drew immediate ire

from both civil society organizations and the opposition. MDC

Secretary General Tendai Biti, who has repeatedly stated the

 

SIPDIS

election was not free and fair, questioned how SADC could

lend credibility to an election that had yet to conclude.

Other local observers questioned South Africa’s deferment of

mission leadership to the Angolan chairman, particularly in

light of Angola’s own electoral record. (NOTE: SADC-PF, the

Parliamentary Forum specializing in election observation,

which has a reputation for neutrality, was barred from

participating in the election by President Mugabe. END NOTE.)

Notably, two representatives who are also members of South

Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance, refused to sign the

statement.

 

3. (U) On March 31, the PAP election observation mission held

a press conference to release its interim statement. The PAP

mission was comprised of 19 members of parliament (from both

opposition and ruling parties) from five regions in Africa.

PAP began by raising concerns about the pre-electoral

environment, including unprofessional statements by security

forces; excess printing of ballots; inadequate preparation of

voters for new changes to the electoral process; and possible

voter roll fraud, gerrymandering, and partisan dispersal of

food. Despite these concerns, PAP concluded that voting on

election day generally met basic standards for free and fair

elections in accordance with the Organization of African

Unity/African Union Declaration on the Principles Governing

Democratic Elections in Africa. PAP based its conclusion

largely on the preponderance of polling stations, the

professional behavior of the majority of police officers

present in and around stations, observer access, and the

posting of initial results outside polling stations in

accordance with new changes to the Electoral Act.

 

4. (U) However, PAP also emphasized that the post-election

phase, which was part of the electoral process, remained a

serious concern as the delay in announcing final results

continued. PAP noted it had raised these issues with the

chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), who

responded that the ZEC had had trouble collecting results

from remote areas. PAP stated it would continue to closely

monitor the process and would make a final statement as soon

 

HARARE 00000269 002 OF 002

 

 

as possible.

 

5. (SBU) COMMENT: SADC’s whitewash of the electoral process,

while disappointing, was to be expected. PAP’s analysis was

more objective; PAP left open the possibility of further

criticism should ZANU-PF seriously manipulate the results.

END COMMENT.

 

MCGEE

(24 VIEWS)

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