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Annan urges Zimbabwe to follow through on pledges regarding upcoming elections

Annan urges Zimbabwe to follow through on pledges regarding upcoming elections

The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, today urged the Government of Zimbabwe to follow through with its pledges regarding the country’s upcoming elections.

In a statement issued by Mr. Annan’s spokesman in New York, the Secretary-General “encourages the Government of Zimbabwe to implement fully and faithfully the actions it has promised to take, including ensuring freedom of speech and assembly, admitting international observers, investigating political violence and scrupulously respecting the rule of law.”

The statement came after yesterday’s Summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Malawi devoted attention to the situation in Zimbabwe, a move that was welcomed by the Secretary-General.

“[Mr. Annan] notes the firm assurances given to the Summit by the Government of Zimbabwe on the free and fair conduct of the approaching elections,” the statement said. “The Secretary-General is aware of the importance of Zimbabwe to Central and Southern Africa, and strongly supports the steps taken by the SADC to facilitate free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.”

The Secretary-General is also acutely concerned by the promulgation in Zimbabwe of laws that would severely restrict the ability of political parties to campaign freely, and limit the freedom of the press, according to the statement.

“He [the Secretary-General] emphasizes that freedom of assembly and association, as well as free and vigorous mass media, protected by a strong and independent judiciary, are essential building blocks of democracy,” the statement said. “These are key features of the New Partnership for African Development, to which all African states have subscribed - and indeed, basic principles of SADC itself.”