Zim cannot go Cote d'Ivoire poll route

HARARE - Cote d ‘Ivoire Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan has said Zimbabwe must not be allowed to replicate his country’s electoral dispute where a 2010 election sparked a four-month civil war.

Duncan was speaking after meeting Zimbabwe PM Morgan Tsvangirai on Saturday in the last leg of a diplomatic offensive targeting key leaders of four of the regional blocs that make up the African Union.

Cote d ‘Ivoire is the current chairperson of the Economic Community of West Africa (Ecowas).

Tsvangirai urged Ecowas to ensure that the environment in Zimbabwe was conducive to the holding of a free and fair election, and highlighted the need to implement all outstanding reforms under the Global Political Agreement (GPA), pointedly public media reforms, security sector realignment, a clean and credible voters’ roll and the alignment of laws to the new constitution passed in a relatively peaceful March 16 referendum.

After getting a brief from PM Tsvangirai, the PM of Cote d ‘Ivoire, said: “Africa cannot afford another Cote d ‘Ivoire experience.”

Cote d ‘Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara won a December 2010 election but incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede power, leading to a conflict that killed some 3 000 people.

Duncan said his country, within the context of both Ecowas and the African Union will stand by the people of Zimbabwe and will not accept a repeat of what happened in Zimbabwe in 2008 or in their own country.

After years of criticism for being a toothless body, Ecowas has in recent years taken a stronger stance against coups and flawed elections, notably in Niger, Guinea and Cote d ‘Ivoire — the world’s number one cocoa exporter.

Ecowas suspended Niger in 2009 after then-president Mamadou Tandja altered the constitution to extend his term in power, and it applied pressure on Gbagbo after he refused to recognise his loss in 2010 elections.

Tsvangirai ended his Africa diplomatic safari on Sunday after meeting Botswana President Ian Khama on Sunday.

Khama, as a neighbour of Zimbabwe, has maintained an active interest in the political situation in Zimbabwe since his country, together with South Africa, has borne the brunt of the 12-year crisis of governance by accommodating a good number of both political and economic refugees from Zimbabwe.

Khama, in his meeting with Tsvangirai reiterated his position that Sadc will have to meet to adopt the roadmap for a free, fair and credible poll and agree on how the elections are going to be monitored.

“Sadc appointed the facilitator and initiated the GPA and thus ultimately remains accountable for the conclusion and monitoring of the political process to a free and fair election,” Khama said.

Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said the diplomatic offensive was targeted at key leaders of four of the regional blocs that make up the African Union; the Sadc, Ecowas, Eastern African Community (EAC) and the Central African regional bloc.

Tsvangirai returned home on Sunday.

Commenting at the end of the PM’s Africa safari, Jameson Timba, minister of State in the PM’s office and MDC secretary for International Relations and Cooperation, said: “It is now clear that Africa is now speaking with one voice on Zimbabwe.

The leaders made it clear that they will not accept either a violent or a rigged election and they also expressed their exasperation with the shenanigans of Zanu PF.

“It is also clear that the yesteryear single voice of solidarity with an individual or the former single ruling party Zanu PF is now ruptured and replaced by solidarity with the democratic aspirations of the majority of Zimbabweans who are yearning for a better life under a new democratic dispensation.” - Gift Phiri, Political Editor

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