US Promises to Reward Progress For Free Zimbabwe Polls

JOHANNESBURG – United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Washington will reward efforts by Harare to pave the way for free and fair elections promising to “match action for action."

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Speaking at Cape Town University in South Africa Wednesday, Clinton who is on an 11-day tour of Africa said the international community has made it clear that the people of Zimbabwe deserve the  right to have their voices and votes counted in a free and fair election.

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She urged SADC leaders – including Zimbabwe mediator President Jacob Zuma of South Africa – to push for the adoption of the draft constitution appended by the three coalition partners but now being rejected by Zanu PF.

A new constitution will lead to the holding of fresh polls, five years after the violent and chaotic 2008 election.

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Clinton urged regional leaders to ensure that Zimbabwe will hold a credible referendum and internationally supervised free and fair polls.

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The position of the United States echoes that adopted by the European Union which imposed sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle.

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The United States and European Union maintain sanctions against the president and his colleagues. The E.U. agreed to lift most sanctions imposed on Mr. Mugabe’s inner circle – but not those against him and his family – if the country adopts a raft of democratic reforms.

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Human rights lawyer Dewa Mavhinga of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said Clinton’s call is welcome though he urged Harare to adopt reforms without waiting for international pressure.

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Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said Mr. Tsvangirai, who is on a diplomatic offensive ahead of the regional Southern African Development Community regional summit next week, has a successful meeting Wednesday in Maputo with Mozambican President Armando Guebuzza.

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In a Facebook message, Luke Tamborinyoka said Mr. Tsvangirai is expected to hold another important meeting on Thursday with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete.

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At the same time, the Prime Minister’s MDC has described as barbaric moves by suspected Zanu PF militia, members of the Central Intelligence Organization and the military to take over venues for training enumerators in some parts of the country.

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In a statement, the party said the action by the police and soldiers “is a deliberate and well-calculated scheme to derail the population census expected to kick off next week”.

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The MDC said armed riot police in Harare descended on Harare Girls High School and ordered all enumerators undergoing training to leave.

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The party said these Zanu PF aligned state agents are trying to block the holding of a transparent census and referendum and free and fair polls next year.

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The party believes that Zanu PF does not want the process of counting people to continue as this will “affect their traditional rigging plans when the delimitation exercise for constituency boundaries starts.”

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