Clinton: Zimbabwe Needs Transparency

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[Zimbabwe Elections 2008]

The coming days will determine whether Zimbabwe moves toward a bright future, or sees its hopes turned back through violent repression.

It is an anxious, uncertain moment, yet also potentially a historic opportunity for this long-suffering country. The very real, disturbing possibility exists of a coerced, fake electoral re-run and, alternatively, of martial law. Strong international pressure is needed now to reduce the possibility of these outcomes.

As the author of the Support for Democracy and Human Rights in Zimbabwe Act of 2007, I have been a strong supporter of democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe. I call upon the Zimbabwe Election Commission to immediately provide an accurate and public accounting of the results of the election. The world is watching Zimbabwe, and the will of that country’s brave people must not be ignored. 

Foreign governments, including Zimbabwe’s neighbors and others outside the region, must send an unequivocal message to President Mugabe not to interfere with the electoral process or with the activities of opposition parties, and to end intimidation of the press at once. 

Delayed reports of electoral results and news of an unprecedented round-up of foreign journalists have raised fears of vote tampering and an imminent crackdown. A true and final presidential vote count must be released without further delay, and these results need to be reviewed openly so that independent observers can help to verify them.

The international community must be vigilant in ensuring that the current impasse is resolved and does not degenerate into violent repression. The surrounding region -- especially South Africa and the regional body, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) – and the African Union leadership must stand up clearly and forthrightly against tyranny in their midst.

The United States and other nations must send a firm message to President Mugabe that repression and manipulation to hold on to power will not be tolerated, and that the regime and individuals responsible will be held accountable.

My thoughts and prayers are with those who are bravely standing up for democracy and with the reporters who have been detained and their families.

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