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Home | ZimCrisis#55 -- Latest US Statements

Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2000 11:10:58 -0700
To: "Zimbabwe Crisis Mailing List":;
From: Zimbabwe Crisis
Subject: ZimCrisis#55 -- Latest US Statements
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"Canadian government":
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Hi everyone,

The extract from yesterday's press briefing at the US Department of State is below. The optimism of a huge MDC victory is being overshadowed by the very real possibility that Mugabe and ZANU-PF have something very, very evil planned for this weekend and the weeks following the election. Kosovo will look like a Sunday picnic in comparison. I sincerely hope that the Zimbabwean police and security forces manage to summon what little professionalism and courage they have left to defy Mugabe's orders, and that if they don't, the international politicians and press on this list summon their own courage to help the people of Zimbabwe defend themselves against the "freedom fighters" they worshipped as gods 20 years ago.


Daily Press Briefing Index
Wednesday, June 21, 2000

Briefer: Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman

7-10 Accreditation of Foreign Election Observers / U.S.
Encourages Release of Cuban Defectors to UNHCR

DPB #63
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21 2000, 1:45 P.M.

QUESTION: Zimbabwe?

MR. REEKER: Zimbabwe, sure.

QUESTION: Do you have anything new regarding the accreditations of foreign observers? And, more generally, what's your assessment of the situation there three days ahead of the election?

MR. REEKER: Further to add to what Ambassador Boucher said yesterday, we deplore the decision to refuse accreditation to the US election observer delegation, which includes members of the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, and the US Embassy in Harare.

The lack of accreditation and the Government of Zimbabwe's limitation on observer access will detract from the credibility of the elections which are due to take place this weekend, June 24 and 25. That is going to further tarnish Zimbabwe's reputation for holding open elections. The Government of Zimbabwe's actions are certainly a setback to the democratic process. The Government of Zimbabwe and the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front is primarily responsible for these deeply troubling developments and the election climate which we see now in Zimbabwe.

We still hope very much that the people of Zimbabwe will be able to express their views this weekend in the elections and that the voting process will be free of manipulation and intimidation. I'll note, as Ambassador Boucher mentioned yesterday, the deadline for the observers to be accredited is June 22nd. We've urged - and we continue to urge - the Government of Zimbabwe to accredit all foreign election observers, governmental and nongovernmental, before that deadline.

We've been in touch at the highest available levels of the Zimbabwean Government to urge reconsideration of their decision. I think both the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute put out some strongly worded statements on the situation in Zimbabwe yesterday. I would refer you to them for their specific plans. I'd also note that we are concerned that 17 African observers belonging to the European Union delegation were denied accreditation as well. We call upon the Government of Zimbabwe once again to accredit all international observers.

QUESTION: Do you mean that US diplomats were denied accreditations?

MR. REEKER: It is also our understanding that employees of embassies in Zimbabwe will not be given observer accreditation, which would be required for them to enter polling places and counting centers.

I mean, this is truly a sort of outrageous step against the standard practice. It makes absolutely no sense. And our diplomats will of course monitor other aspects of the election process as they have been doing up to this point but, without the accreditation, they can not effectively observe the actual polling and counting process.

The limitations on diplomats' access as election observers hinders the diplomats' ability to observe the elections in any sort of meaningful way, and we strongly disagree with such actions to limit observation efforts. And we really, as I indicated at the beginning, deplore the Government of Zimbabwe's failure to create a climate conducive to credible elections.

QUESTION: The government has said that it was just because these are NGOs and they're not going to accredit NGOS, but they would credit foreign officials. So you are saying that that is incorrect; that they have also refused to accredit foreign --

MR. REEKER: My understanding is that they have said they will not accredit NGOs; they will accredit foreign officials but not employees of embassies in Zimbabwe, which makes no sense and, as I indicated, certainly flies in the face of standard diplomatic practice as, again, as sort of effort which fails to create any kind of conducive climate for credible elections.

QUESTION: By employees of embassies, do you mean Zimbabwean citizens who are employed by the embassies, or American citizens who are attached to the embassies?

MR. REEKER: I understand diplomats. Our diplomats generally all over the world observe elections and are accredited as election observers. The Government of Zimbabwe has given us the understanding that our people at our embassy there will not be given observer accreditation. And while we will continue - our diplomats will continue to monitor other aspects of the election process without the accreditation, they'll be unable to enter polling places and they will be unable to effectively monitor and observe actual polling and counting processes.

QUESTION: Phil, is this unprecedented?

MR. REEKER: I would have to go back into the annals of electoral process and the standards of international observation, but I would point you to the statements released yesterday by the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute, which would lead one to believe that this was a most unusual and perhaps unprecedented step.

MR. REEKER: Yes. Zimbabwe?


MR. REEKER: Then let's go to Terri.

QUESTION: There are reports again that the US has invited these defecting Cuban doctors to come to the US. Have we been able to confirm that yet?

MR. REEKER: I don't have anything further for you on that, other than to say that we continue to push the Government of Zimbabwe to release the doctors to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which is the appropriate and required step under international law.

QUESTION: You don't know whether there's been an offer made to them that they would be welcome to come to the US?

MR. REEKER: I am not in a position to discuss that.

QUESTION: Can you just - and I know that I'm just not understanding this, but you're right; it doesn't make any sense. So the Zimbabweans, they have said that they would accredit foreign officials. So did they say to the US, we want to accredit your foreign officials or we want to credit specifically those that work at the embassy? And have you offered other officials, or would you, if they continued to not --

MR. REEKER: My understanding is that employees of embassies, not just the United States Embassy, but embassies in Harare, in Zimbabwe, will not be given observer accreditation, which is what they would require to enter the polling places and the counting centers, which is contrary, completely, to the earlier suggestions that foreign officials would be accredited as election observers. My understanding is that's still the case if the foreign official comes from outside of the established embassy community.

QUESTION: Are you thinking about offering? Are you looking for officials that might --

MR. REEKER: I'll have to check and see. What we're saying right now, a day before the accreditation deadline approaches, is that we're urging, as we have done, the Government of Zimbabwe to accredit all foreign election observers: governmental, nongovernmental, accredited diplomats, and any non-diplomats that are coming for this purpose before that deadline.

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