EU observers arrive in Zimbabwe on pre-election assessment mission

EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe Philippe Van Damme

HARARE, (Xinhua) — A team of European Union (EU) election observers arrives in Harare Monday on a pre-election assessment mission ahead of polls set for July-Aug.

This will be the first time in 16 years that the EU has been involved in Zimbabwe’s electoral processes following a spat between the government and the EU over the country’s land reforms and perceived mis-governance and human rights violations by the government.

EU head of delegation in Zimbabwe Phillipe van Damme said that the team would meet government and Zimbabwe Electoral Commission officials, civil society and political parties, and other election stakeholders.

“The purpose of the visit is to assess the feasibility and usefulness of observing elections. The team will meet different people and is expected to come up with a report which will be presented to the high representatives and head of the commission on the way forward,” he said.

The visit by the EU team follows that of the Southern African Development Community Electoral Advisory Council which arrived in the country last Sunday on another pre-election assessment mission.

The visit was in line with the regional bloc’s Principles and Guidelines Governing Conduct of Democratic Elections and will inform the bloc of the country’s readiness for free, fair and credible polls.

United Nations Development Program administrator Achim Steiner, who was also in Zimbabwe last week, expressed confidence in the country’s preparations for elections.

He said he was sure that areas of contestation surrounding the conduct of elections would be ironed out when President Emmerson Mnangagwa meets opposition parties and through envisaged amendments to the Electoral Act.