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Thursday, 14 March, 2002, 19:48 GMT
Head to head: Zimbabwe election observers
Zanu-PF supporters
Zanu-PF supporters celebrate Robert Mugabe's victory
The Commonwealth observer group in Zimbabwe, along with European and local observers, have strongly condemned the country's presidential election, saying it was held in a climate of fear.

But observers from Nigeria, South Africa and Namibia have, in effect, endorsed the elections, while the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) team announced that "in general the elections were transparent, credible, free and fair".

BBC News Online takes the views of Namibian and European observers on the situation.


Tuliameni Kalomoh, Namibia's Deputy Foreign Minister and election observer:

Despite some pre-election violence attributed to all sorts of political actives [sic], no one group has come out with specific instances of rigging.

No one has come out with specific instances where voters were deliberately denied the right to express their democratic wishes.

I have heard a number of things from the BBC - that the elections were chaotic.

I asked people where that chaos was. No one has ever told me where that chaos was.

Let me say this, the opposition party here - the main opposition won in the constituencies and the areas they were expected to win.

The governing party also won in areas that it was expected to win. Now when you say the elections were rigged - honestly, we must be able to demonstrate or begin to point at instances where that rigging took place.

I have not seen any fair-minded person - I have seen individual observers who came to Zimbabwe with pre-determined notions about the outcome.

But I have not seen any objective individual who was ever to say with a straight face that 'I have observed irregularities, I have observed rigging of the election, I have observed intimidation of the voters - that they've been prevented to go and cast their votes'.

I have not seen that.


Kare Vollan, head of the 25-member Norwegian Observer mission:

We had two main concerns. The first was on the campaign and the run-up to the elections, which was marked by violence - political violence and intimidation - mostly directed against the opposition.

The second was the lack of capacity of the polling stations in Harare which disenfranchised a large number of voters who couldn't really have a fair chance to cast their votes.

We have followed up on all the incidents - or some of those reported to us - we have done that very carefully and we are absolutely sure about the tendency of the violence and intimidation before the elections.

I know that one of the South African statements has been that the elections were conducted in a peaceful atmosphere. But the run-up to the elections was not peaceful in the sense that there were so many incidents which instigated fear among the electorate and there cannot be any doubt about that.

As for Harare, it was also absolutely evident to everyone who was in Harare, that three days in a row people were sent home even if they queued up and had been in line for 10 hours, 20 hours.

The SADC parliamentary group came out with a statement which is very similar to ours. They also measured against well-accepted criteria - the SADC criteria - for elections and they came to more or less the same conclusion.


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