PAP observer mission describe situation on ground as “regrettable & unfortunate”

HARARE,  - THE Pan African Parliament (PAP) observer mission in Zimbabwe to monitor next week's presidential run-off, has described the current political environment as "regrettable and unfortunate".

Head of the mission and Swaziland Member of Parliament, Marwick Khumalo, told journalists on Wednesday that the forthcoming election was different from the March 29 polls, which were held in a peaceful and enabling environment.

“The violence is very worrying and we have utterances from politicians which are very unfortunate. The war utterances do not add value to the electoral process in this country. Since we arrived here we have been responding to concerns from parties and we have investigated some of them,” said Khumalo.

He said as part of their investigations, the mission met a man who was no longer living at his home as a result of the ongoing political violence and was also shown a grave of his wife who was killed in the disturbances.

“It’s not acceptable. It is regrettable that violence has resurfaced and now our task is going to be very difficult. We now have to observe as well as investigate the issues of violence,” said Khumalo.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai, has claimed that over 60 supporters of the party have been killed since the March elections, and thousands displaced, particularly in the rural areas. They blame the government for the violence, a claim it has however, sought to refute.

World attention is again shifting to Zimbabwe ahead of the vote on June 27.

ZANU-PF presidential candidate Robert Mugabe has over the past days announced at his rallies that the country will never be ruled by the MDC, which he once again accused of being used by Britain and the United States to effect regime change. He threatened “war” to ensure that he remained in power regardless of the outcome of the poll.

Analysts say such remarks by Mugabe are part of a clear plan to undermine the opposition and lays the ground for an election that cannot be free and fair.

Khumalo said in view of the magnitude of the run-off, PAP decided to increase the number of MPs to 40, representing all five regions of Africa, as well as a 24 support staff.

“It will be noted that this time the Pan-African Parliament deployed an advance team of observers who arrived in the country three week before polling day. Furthermore, the mission intends to extend its stay after polling day,” said Khumalo.

He said the mission also hoped the elections would be conducted in an “orderly manner” and the “results announced timeously”–CAJ News.

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