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Ahead of Zimbabwe’s elections, Annan urges respect for outcome

Ahead of Zimbabwe’s elections, Annan urges respect for outcome

Expressing concern about conditions surrounding this weekend’s presidential elections in Zimbabwe, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged all sides to refrain from violence and fully respect the outcome of the vote.

“It is essential that the political leadership of Zimbabwe should be decided through the ballot box; and that the will of the people is respected regardless of the outcome of this weekend’s election; and further, that once the will of the people is fairly expressed, all sides commit themselves to national reconciliation,” said Mr. Annan in a statement released late Thursday. He also urged the country’s people to vote without fear “in the knowledge that the ballot is secret.”

The Secretary-General emphasized the importance of completing the vote count “without interference or manipulation,” and called for a quick announcement of the result. “A credible and fully transparent process is the best way to ensure that the result of the election is accepted by all as reflecting the will of the voters,” he said.

Mr. Annan said he was “acutely concerned” at reports of possible violence during or after the elections, and appealed to all parties and individuals to “show the utmost restraint” and to pursue their objectives by constitutional means.

“In democratic elections there are always losers as well as winners,” he observed. “Democracy depends on the losers respecting the outcome, and on the winners respecting the civil and political rights of the losers.”