South Africa sends election observers to Zimbabwe

June 12th, 2008 - 5:05 pm ICT by IANS  

DPA
Johannesburg, June 12 (DPA) South Africa is sending its first election monitors to Zimbabwe ahead of the presidential run-off on June 27, Business Day newspaper reported Thursday. It said the observers will report on conditions ahead of the contest between President Robert Mugabe and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Chief negotiators for Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition have met secretly in Pretoria in a bid to find a way to end the political stalemate in Zimbabwe, the report said.

In addition to South Africa, the United States, the United Nations, the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have been involved in mediation.

Tsvangirai has denied reports he is willing to enter into a coalition government ahead of the run-off, which became necessary after the MDC leader defeated Mugabe in the first round on March 29 but failed to win an absolute majority.

Campaigning for the run-off has taken place in a climate of violence, which, according to the MDC, has claimed the lives of 66 people.

Another 200 were missing, 3 000 had had to receive hospital treatment and 25,000 were displaced, it said.

The United States and Britain have demanded the United Nations look into reports of human rights violations in Zimbabwe.

The UN Security Council was due to discuss the situation Thursday, while the UN wants to send an envoy to Zimbabwe to assess the crisis.

Business Day said the Pretoria talks resumed on Tuesday and continued Wednesday, presided over by Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi. The two groups previously met on May 30 and 31.

Reports said both ZANU-PF and the MDC were interested in a negotiated settlement.

Business Day said Mugabe wishes to avoid the run-off to negate the possibility of losing and being taken to task for human rights abuses.

But if the vote goes ahead, he also wants to win and negotiate from a position of strength, it said.
DPA

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