Western powers urge Zimbabwe to ensure credible vote


    In a statement released only Wednesday by the US State Department, the Friends of Zimbabwe made the appeal when they met December 10 in Copenhagen to discuss how to remedy the African country’s economic and political problems.

    While recognizing economic and other structural improvements have been made, "serious concerns remain relating to the protection of fundamental rights, the rule of law, governance and respect for agreements," the group said.

    "Credible and legitimate elections in line with Southern African Development Community (SADC) guidelines, that are free of violence and that accept the will of the people, are central to democratic transformation in Zimbabwe," it said.

    "To reach this point, the Zimbabwean government needs to create the enabling environment, and agree on and implement significant reforms as stipulated in the GPA," it said.

    It was referring to the Global Political Agreement (GPA), the 2008 accord that resulted in power-sharing between President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader who became prime minister.

    Zimbabwe faces renewed political and economic turmoil as Mugabe’s push for polls next year and threats to kick out Western firms are sending the nation backwards, analysts said Sunday.

    Mugabe is expected to face Tsvangirai, his long-time foe and the Movement for Democratic Change leader, in a presidential vote, after he said the power-sharing arrangement between their parties would end in February.

    The Friends of Zimbabwe threw their support behind regional efforts, including those by the SADC, to help Zimbabwe ensure what they called "the conditions for credible, legitimate and peaceful elections."

    At the meeting were delegates from the United States, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Britain, the State Department statement said.

    There were also delegates from the European Commission, EU Council Secretariat, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, African Development Bank, and the United Nations, it said.