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Public Statements

Letter to His Excellency Levy Mwanawasa ,President of the Republic of Zambia and The Honorable Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


Letter to His Excellency Levy Mwanawasa ,President of the Republic of Zambia and The Honorable Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State

Kerry Calls on SADC to Increase Security for Zimbabwe Run-Off Election

Senator John Kerry today pushed for strong security measures to protect opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and others in the run-off election in Zimbabwe. In letters to President Mwanawasa, Southern African Development Community (SADC) Chairman, and Secretary Condoleezza Rice, Senator Kerry asked for action by SADC and vigorous diplomatic outreach from the Secretary to help bring about free and fair elections in the country.

Bellow is the full text of Senator Kerry's letters:

May 23, 2008

His Excellency Levy Mwanawasa
President of the Republic of Zambia
Chairman of the Southern African
Development Community

Dear President Mwanawasa:

I write to express my grave concern regarding the personal safety of Zimbabwe's opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, who plans to return tomorrow, and other members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), as well as members of civil society.

As you know, on March 29, 2008, presidential and parliamentary elections were held in Zimbabwe amid widespread reports of voting irregularities on behalf of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party led by President Robert Mugabe. Although Mr. Tsvangirai clearly won the most votes and may well have received more than the 50-percent threshold needed to avoid a run-off, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has announced a second round of presidential elections to be held on June 27, 2008.

Since the initial voting, it is clear that President Mugabe's ZANU-PF supporters have embarked on a campaign of political violence and intimidation that has left hundreds of MDC members and supporters, opposition lawmakers, and civil society activists either dead, injured, or in prison. Recent published accounts also cite persistent threats of plans to assassinate Mr. Tsvangirai—who has already survived three assassination attempts and vicious beatings—in advance of the June 27 run-off election.

I am particularly troubled by the problems that Mr. Tsvangirai has encountered in obtaining adequate security, and understand that MDC officials have contacted regional leaders to ensure his safety. In fact, Mr. Tsvangirai recently cancelled his planned return from South Africa for a third time due to this wholly inadequate security situation.

I trust you agree that free and fair elections can only occur in Zimbabwe if the political opposition is able to campaign, and civil society is able to function, without fear of retribution. In light of these disturbing facts, I strongly urge you to do everything in your power as Chairman of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) to ensure that Mr. Tsvangirai and other opposition members receive adequate protection.

This would not be the first time SADC has played a positive role in assisting the democratic process. Since 1999, SADC has observed elections in Namibia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Tanzania, Zambia, Lesotho, South Africa, Malawi, Botswana, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Given the current climate of violence and fear in Zimbabwe, I believe that additional action by SADC is needed to help bring about free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this serious matter. I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

John Kerry

May 23, 2008

The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Madam Secretary:

I write to express my grave concern regarding the personal safety of Zimbabwe's opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, and other members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) who plan to return to Zimbabwe tomorrow, as well as members of civil society already there, in advance of Zimbabwe's second round of presidential elections.

As you know, on March 29, 2008, presidential and parliamentary elections were held in Zimbabwe amid widespread reports of voting irregularities on behalf of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party led by President Robert Mugabe. Although Mr. Tsvangirai clearly won the most votes and may well have received more than the 50-percent threshold needed to avoid a run-off, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has announced a second round of presidential elections to be held on June 27, 2008.

Since the initial voting, it is clear that President Mugabe's ZANU-PF supporters have embarked on a campaign of political violence and intimidation that has left hundreds of MDC members and supporters, opposition lawmakers, and civil society activists either dead, injured, or in prison. Recent published accounts also cite persistent threats that there might be plans to assassinate Mr. Tsvangirai—who has already survived three assassination attempts and vicious beatings—in advance of the June 27 run-off election.

I am particularly troubled by the problems that Mr. Tsvangirai has encountered in obtaining adequate security and understand that MDC officials have contacted regional leaders to ensure his safety. In fact, Mr. Tsvangirai recently had to cancel his planned return from South Africa to Zimbabwe for a third time due to this wholly inadequate security situation in the face of reported death threats.

I trust you share our belief that free and fair elections can only occur in Zimbabwe if the political opposition is able to campaign, and civil society is able to function, without fear for their personal safety. In light of these disturbing facts, I strongly urge you to do everything in your power as Secretary of State to help ensure that Mr. Tsvangirai and other opposition members receive adequate protection.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this serious matter. I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

John Kerry


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