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Zimbabwean Polls Should Be Postponed - Ban Ki-Moon

Zimbabwean polls should be postponed, given campaign violence - Ban

23 June 2008 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged authorities in Zimbabwe to postpone the presidential run-off election slated for Friday, in light of ongoing violence and the "understandable decision" by the opposition candidate to withdraw from the polls.

"Conditions do not exist for free and fair elections right now in Zimbabwe," Mr. Ban told reporters in New York. "There has been too much violence, too much intimidation. A vote held in these conditions would lack all legitimacy."

The Secretary-General, who has been in touch with a number of African leaders on the ongoing crisis in Zimbabwe, added that they all agreed that the elections should be postponed until the right conditions are in place.

"I would strongly discourage the authorities with going ahead with the run-off on Friday. It will only deepen divisions within the country and produce a result that cannot be credible," he stated.

Yesterday Morgan Tsvangirai, of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), announced he was withdrawing from the 27 June run-off in which he was set to face President Robert Mugabe. The country has been marred by deadly political violence since the first round of the presidential election on 29 March.

"The campaign of threats and intimidation we have seen in Zimbabwe goes against the very spirit of democracy," said the Secretary-General. "Instead of openness, free competition and transparency, we have witnessed fear, hostility and blatant attacks against Zimbabwean citizens."

He added that what happens in Zimbabwe has an impact well beyond the country's borders. "The situation in Zimbabwe represents the single greatest challenge to regional stability in Southern Africa today. The region's political and economic security are at stake as is the very institution of elections in Africa."

Last week, Mr. Ban sent senior UN political official Haile Menkerios to Zimbabwe in an attempt reduce political tensions. Mr. Menkerios remains in the region, after having met with officials in both Zimbabwe and neighbouring South Africa.

ENDS

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