Zimbabwe has denied the Carter Centre, which conducts election observation work across the globe, accreditation to observe the southern Africa nation’s forthcoming polls fixed for 31 July.
A statement issued by the Atlanta-based Carter Foundation received by PANA on Tuesday, said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Chairperson, Rita Makarau, on 9 July informed the Carter Centre that its application to observe forthcoming national elections in Zimbabwe had been declined.
The statement said while the Centre regretted this news, it respected the commission’s decision, adding ‘without accreditation, The Carter Centre will not be able to conduct an international election observation mission’.
The Carter Centre, founded by former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, has observed 94 elections in 37 countries.
President Robert Mugabe, 89, who has been in power since 1980, last week launched his reelection campaign.
The Carter Centre said a peaceful and transparent election that reflected the will of the people was the right of all citizens in a genuine democracy.
It said international election observation was widely recognized around the world as an important measure to promote such transparency.
‘Perhaps even more important, impartial and non-partisan citizen observation groups have a critical role to play in promoting transparency and electoral credibility, especially in Zimbabwe. Citizen observation is founded on the fundamental human rights to participate in public affairs, to associate, and to seek, receive and impart information in an electoral context.’
The statement said as part of its effort to seek accreditation, the Centre had undertaken two pre-election visits to Zimbabwe to assess if it would be welcomed by all stakeholders, including all political parties anticipated to contest the polls.
‘During these visits, The Carter Centre was received by key stakeholders, including representatives of the three major political parties, all of which indicated a readiness to welcome a Carter Centre observation presence in Zimbabwe,’ it said.
The Carter Centre encouraged all stakeholders to recommit to a peaceful and transparent electoral process, saying ‘the Centre remains committed to the advancement of democratic governance in Zimbabwe, and looks forward to an opportunity to support the country’s future’.