Zimbabwe poses preconditions for western observers

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The Zimbabwe government said Monday it would not agree to opposition demands for European Union (EU), United Nations and United States (US) election monitors to observe a presidential run-off expected shortly in the African nation.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa accused the US and the EU of being active participants in Zimbabwe’s politics by allegedly sponsoring the opposition, saying this disqualified them from sending observers.

He, however, said the government could agree to allow US and EU election observers if the two lifted sanctions they had imposed on Zimbabwe for alleged human rights violations.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is scheduled to lock horns with President Robert Mugabe in a presidential run-off after a March poll failed to produce a winner, at the weekend hinged his participation in the election on international observers and media being allowed to take part.

“Tsvangirai seeks to introduce new rules in a game that has already started. He should stop playing or acting like a spoilt child,” Chinamasa said.

“We will not allow them (US, EU observers) because they (western countries) are players. We will think favourably of them if they lift sanctions. Until they do that, there is no basis to have any relationship with them,” he said.

No date has been fixed for the run-off, but by law it should be held by 23 May.

There are indications election officials will delay the poll.

In the first round, Tsvangirai obtained 47.9 percent of the vote, compared to Mugabe’s 43.2 percent

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