Wednesday, 31 July 2013

COMESA Observes Zimbabwe’s July 31 harmonized elections

The COMESA Election Observer Mission to the July 31 harmonized elections in Zimbabwe was officially launched last Friday 26 July 2013 in the capital Harare. The short term observer team has been assessing the situation on the ground as the country, with a population of at least 13 million heads to the polls. Secretary-General Sindiso Ngwenya and Mission Leader Ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat flagged off the observers who will observe the crucial elections in all the ten provinces of Zimbabwe.
During the launch, Mr. Ngwenya stated that as regional integration deepens in the bloc, democracy and good governance are a necessary and important factor for successful social and economic integration. “Equally important, the democratization process can only obtain and be sustained in an environment that is peaceful,” he said.
He pointed out that one of COMESA’s six core objectives is cooperation in the promotion of peace, security and stability to enhance economic development. This empowers the organization to observe elections in its member states and so far, COMESA has observed a total of 15 elections and referenda in the region.
“In response to an invitation from the Government of Zimbabwe, COMESA Secretariat has put together a team of twenty four observers drawn from Member States, civil society and sister regional economic organizations namely, East African Community (EAC), Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), all of whom have signed a code of conduct and are ready to be deployed,’’ Mr. Ngwenya added.
Ambassador Kiplagat informed the gathering who included diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe and international observers that the COMESA observers had undergone a very comprehensive training session and they had been exposed to the political environment of the country and the various aspects of election observation. They observers also had an opportunity to interact with important stakeholders including the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the security wing, civil society organizations, the media and representatives of political parties.
Ambassador Kiplagat is a member of the COMESA Committee of Elders and he has served as COMESA’s election observer mission leader to the Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.