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Electoral law reform in the region discussed at Vic Falls
August 03, 2004

HARARE - Southern African civil society groups, political parties and parliamentarians are meeting at the Zimbabwean resort town of Victoria Falls to discuss electoral law reform in the region.

The two-day conference, which began yesterday, is being hosted by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) and the Johannesburg-based Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA).

A Southern African Development Community (SADC) heads of state summit scheduled for Mauritius later this month is to review laws governing elections in SADC states. The conference in Victoria Falls will draw up recommendations to be presented to the SADC summit.

An EISA project officer, Dieudonne Tshiyoyo, said: "The conference will (discuss) electoral management bodies and how these can be structured and appointed such that the elections conducted reflect the will of the voters." ZESN is expected to table recommendations for reforms required to ensure democratic elections in Zimbabwe.

President Robert Mugabe has pledged to reform Zimbabwe's electoral laws and to appoint a new Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to run elections in the country including a crucial general poll set for March 2005.

Civil society groups and the main opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) say the proposed ZEC will lack independence because the President will still have the power to hire and fire its chairman.

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