Zimbabwe election run-off condemned as unfair

Zimbabwe election run-off condemned as unfair

[JURIST] International leaders and human rights groups have criticized last Friday's presidential run-off election in Zimbabwe [Harare Tribune election results], calling the elections unfair and characterizing the government of newly sworn-in president Robert Mugabe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] as illegitimate. A committee of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) [official website], the legislative branch of the African Union, reported Monday that killings, intimidation and violence were common [report text] in the lead-up to the elections, and that the election itself had a low voter turnout and was neither transparent nor impartial. Through a spokesperson, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] indicated in a press statement [text] that the voting results "did not reflect the true and genuine will of the Zimbabwean people or produce a legitimate result." Meeting in Kyoto, Japan for the 2008 G8 Kyoto Foreign Ministers' Meeting [summit website], foreign ministers from the G8 countries issued a joint statement [text] on Zimbabwe, saying:

We deplore the actions of the Zimbabwean authorities – systematic violence, obstruction and intimidation – which have made a free and fair Presidential run-off election impossible. We strongly urge the Zimbabwean authorities to work with the opposition to achieve a prompt, peaceful resolution of the crisis in accordance with the democratic wishes of the Zimbabwean people and, for that purpose, to cooperate fully with the international efforts.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) [official website] also criticized the Zimbabwean government, encouraging African nations to impose sanctions [HRW statement] on the Zimbabwean government because of the "sham presidential runoff." AFP has more.

Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], presidential candidate of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) [party website] are disputing the results of the recent presidential elections [JURIST news archive]. Tsvangirai is currently taking refuge [JURIST report] at the Dutch embassy in Harare. The MDC has estimated that at least 65 of its members have been killed [BBC report] since the first election in March. Human rights groups suggested that state-sponsored violence would only increase as the second presidential vote drew closer, and in the past few weeks the amount of election-related violence has increased, including the beating [ABC News report], torture [National Post report], and killing [NYT report] of MDC supporters throughout Zimbabwe. Last week, Mugabe's government expelled a UN human rights observer [JURIST news report]. Earlier this month, government forces stopped and detained US and UK diplomats [JURIST report], threatening them and beating one of their drivers.