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Statement on the March 16 Zimbabwean Constitutional Referendum
March 18, 2013
The U.S. Embassy
congratulates the people and government of Zimbabwe for holding
a peaceful, credible constitutional
referendum on March 16. This historic step forward in the nation’s
development of democracy and rule of law is part of an important
process started in 1980 to establish freedom for all Zimbabwean
On March 16,
the U.S. Embassy fielded five observation teams, which were fully
accredited by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. The teams observed
over 40 polling stations in different parts of the country. The
U.S. diplomatic observers, including Ambassador Bruce Wharton, were
welcomed by polling station officials in both rural and urban areas,
and reported no violence or other significant problems.
We note our
concern over reports that voters in some area were instructed to
vote at specific stations, or instructed to report to political
party operatives after voting. We also note with regret that accreditation
of observers was limited, but believe that the overall conduct of
this referendum has helped to gain the confidence of the Zimbabwean
people, neighboring countries, and the international community.
Respect for the rule of law and apolitical policing, as seen on
March 16, are important for establishing conducive conditions for
credible and non-violent Zimbabwean elections later this year.
observers can play a positive role in ensuring Zimbabweans are able
to campaign and vote in a free and fair environment. We urge the
government of Zimbabwe to welcome non-governmental groups with a
track record of expertise to observe freely and independently as
Zimbabweans prepare to vote later this year.
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