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Cablegate: A Credible Process? Election Observers Weigh In

VZCZCXRO1468
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0269/01 0931722
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 021722Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2676
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1897
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1869
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1992
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0565
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1269
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1626
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2048
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4479
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1119
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC//DHO-7//
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUAEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK//DOOC/ECMO/CC/DAO/DOB/DOI//
RUZEHAA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE//ECJ23-CH/ECJ5M//

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000269

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

AF/S DESK OFFICER S. HILL
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN
USAID FOR L.DOBBINS AND E. LOKEN
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL ZI ASEC
SUBJECT: A CREDIBLE PROCESS? ELECTION OBSERVERS WEIGH IN


1. (U) SUMMARY: In the days following Zimbabwe,s national
election, two independent observation missions -- SADC and
the Pan African Parliament (PAP) -- released preliminary
evaluations of the election. Despite noting serious
irregularities in the pre-electoral environment, both
missions deemed the election day processes credible and in
accordance with standards set by regional bodies. In light of
the projection of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network
(ZESN) that Morgan Tsvangirai would come first in the
presidential race, along with reports by civil society and
the MDC of pre-election rigging and post-election delays,
SADC's findings were widely criticized by opposition and
civil society stakeholders. PAP,s statement, which noted
concerns over the delay in releasing the final results, was
better received. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) On March 30, one day after voting and well ahead of
the release of any results, the Southern African Development
Community's (SADC) observer mission, comprised of 163
representatives from 11 of the 13 member states and chaired
by Angolan Minister of Youth and Sports Jose Marcos Barrica,
issued its preliminary statement on the election at a press
conference in Harare. The chairman stated that despite
problems in the pre-election process, the elections "have
been a peaceful and credible expression of the will of the
Zimbabwean people," in accordance with SADC guidelines for
democratic elections. SADC's sentiments drew immediate ire
from both civil society organizations and the opposition. MDC
Secretary General Tendai Biti, who has repeatedly stated the

SIPDIS
election was not free and fair, questioned how SADC could
lend credibility to an election that had yet to conclude.
Other local observers questioned South Africa's deferment of
mission leadership to the Angolan chairman, particularly in
light of Angola's own electoral record. (NOTE: SADC-PF, the
Parliamentary Forum specializing in election observation,
which has a reputation for neutrality, was barred from
participating in the election by President Mugabe. END NOTE.)
Notably, two representatives who are also members of South
Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance, refused to sign the
statement.

3. (U) On March 31, the PAP election observation mission held
a press conference to release its interim statement. The PAP
mission was comprised of 19 members of parliament (from both
opposition and ruling parties) from five regions in Africa.
PAP began by raising concerns about the pre-electoral
environment, including unprofessional statements by security
forces; excess printing of ballots; inadequate preparation of
voters for new changes to the electoral process; and possible
voter roll fraud, gerrymandering, and partisan dispersal of
food. Despite these concerns, PAP concluded that voting on
election day generally met basic standards for free and fair
elections in accordance with the Organization of African
Unity/African Union Declaration on the Principles Governing
Democratic Elections in Africa. PAP based its conclusion
largely on the preponderance of polling stations, the
professional behavior of the majority of police officers
present in and around stations, observer access, and the
posting of initial results outside polling stations in
accordance with new changes to the Electoral Act.

4. (U) However, PAP also emphasized that the post-election
phase, which was part of the electoral process, remained a
serious concern as the delay in announcing final results
continued. PAP noted it had raised these issues with the
chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), who
responded that the ZEC had had trouble collecting results
from remote areas. PAP stated it would continue to closely
monitor the process and would make a final statement as soon

HARARE 00000269 002 OF 002


as possible.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: SADC's whitewash of the electoral process,
while disappointing, was to be expected. PAP's analysis was
more objective; PAP left open the possibility of further
criticism should ZANU-PF seriously manipulate the results.
END COMMENT.

MCGEE

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