US says Zimbabwe still has a chance to get things back on track


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The United States yesterday said it had clear concerns about the coming elections in Zimbabwe but it still believed that there was time to get things back on track.

State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said Secretary of State John Kerry had made it clear in a letter to President Robert Mugabe that Washington is only going to revisit its bilateral relationship with Harare if Zimbabwe implements necessary reforms, allows civil society organisations to operate freely, and holds elections that are peaceful, credible, and represent the will of the Zimbabwean people.

“So we’ve been clear about our concerns, but we also believe there is still time to get things back on track. We’ve also – our sanctions policy has not changed, to my knowledge, and we’ve made clear to the Government of Zimbabwe that further reductions in sanctions will only occur if the next elections are credible, transparent, and again, reflect the will of the people” she said.

Below is the transcript of the briefing on Zimbabwe:

QUESTION: Zimbabwe?

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: A few days ago, Lesley asked about a letter that Secretary Kerry wrote to President Mugabe that was delivered by Andrew Young. Do you have any update on the contents or readout of that letter and whether there’s been any response from the Zimbabwe Government?

MS. HARF: I do. Secretary Kerry made it clear in his letter that the United States is prepared to revisit our bilateral relationship with Zimbabwe, but only if Zimbabwe implements needed political reforms, allows civil society organizations to operate freely, and holds elections that are peaceful, credible, and represent the will of the Zimbabwean people. I don’t have any update for you on whether there’s been a response or not.

QUESTION: Today, the SADC had said that the – it was the first time that President Zuma’s actually spoken out and said that the Zimbabwe election looked like it wasn’t going to be a credible, free one. Is your sense that the Zimbabweans have got the message that unless they act now, that none of those sanctions are going to be lifted?

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve made it clear that this is a critical moment – and I spoke to this, I believe; I know Patrick has – and that we have expressed our deep concerns about parts of this process, including the lack of transparency in electoral preparations, the continued partisan behavior by state security institutions, and some of the technical and logistical issues that are hampering the administration of a credible and transparent election.

So we’ve been clear about our concerns, but we also believe there is still time to get things back on track. We’ve also – our sanctions policy has not changed, to my knowledge, and we’ve made clear to the Government of Zimbabwe that further reductions in sanctions will only occur if the next elections are credible, transparent, and again, reflect the will of the people.

QUESTION: Given that there’s only two weeks left for the election, I mean, do you think that the election should be delayed until those preparations are in order?

MS. HARF: I don’t have anything for you on that. Again, we’ve made our concerns known, but we do believe that there is still time for some of these concerns to be alleviated.

(9 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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