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Calls for Real Commitment to Democracy
Bar Association (IBA)
from International Bar Association, Zimbabwe Election Focus
On 31 March,
2005, Zimbabwe will, once again, have parliamentary elections.
Robert G Mugabe
who, maintaining a 'democratic façade', has run Zimbabwe
in an authoritarian manner for the last 25 years, is trying to
obtain a new mandate. But his electorate record - full of past
instances of fraud and manipulation - has been very poor so far.
to have perfected the art of conducting elections without allowing
any real competition. When necessary, he has even turned to open
repression of the opposition.
the international community is closely monitoring the ongoing
electoral process in Zimbabwe. It is deeply concerned because,
up to now, Mugabe has effectively prevented the transfer of power
through elections even to those who appeared to have won the recent
are manipulated, like they were in Zimbabwe, results do not reflect
the will of the people. We should remember that the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights reminds that free and fair elections
are of the essence when it states that 'the will of the people
shall be the basis of the authority of government' and that this
'shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections'.
It is time
for Mugabe to behave in a democratic manner. Even his own region
is now closely following the way to the forthcoming elections.
A new democratic spirit that seems to float over Africa, as the
events in Togo have just proved, should not be betrayed.
Emilio Cárdenas, Co-Chair of the IBA Human Rights Institute
'It is accepted
in all democracies today that free and fair elections are so crucial
that the global community and internationally recognised NGOs are
entitled and expected to monitor elections. For a democracy to work,
the starting point is the free and fair election of the representatives
of all the people.
that, it's the beginning. For democracies to work, the institutions
that underpin democracy have to be respected. Democratic elections,
as crucial as they are, are not sufficient to ensure democracy.
It is important, in respect of the exercise and protection of fundamental
human rights in a democracy, that there should be complete confidence
in the manner in which leaders in all three branches of government
have been chosen, namely in an open and free way.
of other human rights comes after the election and depends on the
institutions being allowed to work efficiently and transparently.
Without free and fair elections, you will not have respect for other
human rights but, because it is a point worth emphasising, I reiterate
that free and fair elections alone do not ensure democracy.
Richard Goldstone, Co-Chair of the IBA Human Rights Institute
election in Zimbabwe calls for world concern, as the result is
already known - the return of a dictatorial system.
Free and Fair
election connotes: freedom of the press, level playing field and
absence of coercion, intimidation or fear of the consequences
of voting against a sitting Dictator.
Mugabe should open the environment for a genuinely free and fair
election to take place. The days are gone when only one man in
a Nation Knows it all and African Nations should not be run as
Leaders owe Africa a duty to stop playing the proverbial Ostrich
on the continued abuse of electoral processes in Zimbabwe. The
time has come for the world to refuse recognition of leaders whose
power is not clearly derived from the will of the people.
Onakoya, Chair, African Regional Forum, IIBA
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