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General News of Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Source: Myjoyonline.com

Ensure peaceful, credible polls - Mahama urges Zimbabweans

Former Ghanaian leader, John Dramani Mahama has called on stakeholders in the elections in Zimbabwe, to ensure peaceful and credible as they go to the polls next week.

Mr. Mahama wants citizens of the southern Africa country, “particularly women and the youth, to participate in this election, and all stakeholders to play their part in ensuring a peaceful and credible process.”

General elections are scheduled to be held in Zimbabwe on Monday, 30 July 2018 to elect the President and members of both houses of Parliament.

This will be the first election since the resignation of former President Robert Mugabe following a military intervention in November 2017.

Overall, a total of 23 candidates are competing in the presidential race, with President Emmerson Mnangagwa, from the ruling ZANU-PF party, and Nelson Chamisa, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance (MDC), seen as the front runners.

Mr. Mahama, who is leading a Commonwealth Observer Group to the elections, noted in his arrival statement that, “for the first time in Zimbabwe’s electoral history, women are among the presidential candidates: a total of four.”

Former President John Mahama, former Ghana EC Chair, Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan serve on the Common Observer Group.

Read the full statement below:

COMMONWEALTH OBSERVER GROUP IN ZIMBABWEANS

Arrival Statement by the Chair, John Dramani Mahama, former President, Republic of Ghana 25 July 2018

I am honoured to have been invited by the Secretary-General, the Rt. Hon Patricia Scotland QC., to lead the Commonwealth Observer Group for the general elections that will take place in Zimbabwe on Monday, 30th July.

The Observer Group constituted by the Commonwealth Secretary-General consists of 23 eminent people from across the Commonwealth, including representatives from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Pacific. We are here until the 6th of August at the invitation of the Government of Zimbabwe.

The observers constituting this mission, have a great depth of knowledge and experience - not only of electoral and political processes, but of civil society, human rights, gender, media and youth issues.

The Commonwealth last observed elections in Zimbabwe in 2002. The first election it observed in this country was in 1980. We recognise that Zimbabwe has come a long way since then, and this election of 2018 is absolutely critical for the purpose of democratic consolidation.

As independent observers, our mandate is to consider factors that affect the credibility of the electoral process and report on whether the vote has been conducted according to the national, regional, and international standards to which Zimbabwe has committed itself.

We will perform our role with impartiality, independence and transparency.

It was here in Harare, in 1991, that Commonwealth Heads of Government issued a seminal declaration committing their countries to a set of principles, including democracy, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, just and honest government; and fundamental human rights.

It is noteworthy that, for the first time in Zimbabwe’s electoral history, women are among the presidential candidates: a total of four.

The Commonwealth Observer Group urges all Zimbabwean citizens, particularly women and the youth, to participate in this election, and all stakeholders to play their part in ensuring a peaceful and credible process.

Our pre-election assessment team was in Zimbabwe in June and carried out a comprehensive overview of preparation towards the elections and also examined the environment in which the election is being held.

Our team is fully assembled and over the last several days have been engaged in consultation with a wide-range of election stakeholders including, the Zimbabwe Election Commission, political parties, citizen observers, civil society and media representatives.

On 28th July, we will deploy observers to ten provinces, where they will observe preparations ahead of the vote. On election day, they will observe the opening of polls, voting, closing of polls, counting of votes and the tabulation of results.

We will issue a Statement of our preliminary findings after the elections.

The final report will then be prepared and submitted to the Secretary-General, who will share it with the Government of Zimbabwe, leaders of political parties, the Zimbabwe Election Commission, and thereafter to all Commonwealth governments. It will also be made available to the public.

The final mission report would form a part of the Commonwealth Secretary-General’s assessment of Zimbabwe’s interest in being readmitted to the organisation.

On behalf of the Group, I wish the people of Zimbabwe well as they prepare to exercise their democratic right to vote.