HARARE — Former U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan is calling for a peaceful election in Zimbabwe, which holds general polls in less than two weeks. Annan met with Zimbabwe’s president and leader of the opposition Friday.
Kofi Annan came to Zimbabwe leading “The Elders,” an independent group of mostly retired global leaders working together for peace and human rights. With him on the trip are Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland, and Lakhdar Brahimi, an Algerian career diplomat.
They spent about an hour Friday meeting with President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the State House.
The former U.N. secretary general said he would only speak to reporters Saturday when he winds up his three-day visit to Zimbabwe.
But reporters would not take no for an answer.
Reporter: What brought you to Zimbabwe, sir? Just one question sir…
“To encourage a peaceful and credible election,” Annan responded.”
Annan also met with Nelson Chamisa, leader of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance.
The opposition has accused the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of refusing to release the voters roll to be used in the polls or to reveal the quantity, location and printer of ballot papers.
Chamisa said he had a “fruitful meeting” with The Elders group.
“We raised it with the elders,” Chamisa said. “They have made a commitment that they are going to consider our position. Most of the changes that we want to see are not very difficult to implement.
The opposition also wants the vote of some police officers to be nullified, because the officers had to cast ballots in front of their superiors.
After meeting Annan, President Mnangagwa came to the defense of the electoral body, which the opposition says is trying to rig the July 30 elections for the ruling ZANU-PF party.
“Government has no role or controlling of influencing ZEC at all,” Mnangagwa said. “They are guided by the Electoral Act as well as the constitution. Those who feel that ZEC has not complied with the law or the constitution our courts are open to deal with such issues.”
Former president Robert Mugabe was accused of rigging several elections during his 37-year rule. President Mnangagwa has pledged this year’s vote will be credible.