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AU happy with Zimbabwe vote preparations

African Union chief says there is nothing to raise concern on how July 31 elections will be conducted.

Last Modified: 25 Jul 2013 14:56
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Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is in Harare to assess progress on preparations for the forthcoming elections [EPA]

The African Union is satisfied with Zimbabwe's preparations for the July 31 election, local media have reported.

The Herald newspaper on Thursday reported that after arriving in the capital Harare on Wednesday, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the AU Commission chairperson, said the continental bloc was pleased with the country's progress so far in the lead up to the July 31 elections.

"Those who came earlier said all was well and as of now everything is is proceeding well. Nothing gives us any cause for concern," she said.

The Herald's report comes hours before the AU briefs the media on its pre-election findings about the country's readiness for the elections.

With six days left for presidential and parliamentary elections, there still remains much skepticism following allegations of electoral fraud and the possibility of violence in an election that pits President Robert Mugabe against Morgan Tsvangirai, his rival and main opposition leader.

In power since Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980, Mugabe, 89, will be running for the 7th term in office.

The last election in 2008 was won by Tsvangirai, but he did not secure enough votes to avoid a runoff in which Mugabe stood as a sole candidate after his opponent boycotted the vote over intimidation and harassment of his supporters.

Out of the 6.3 million eligible voters, the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission (ZEC) says 93 per cent have registered to cast a ballot.

Logistics

Meanwhile, the ZEC said on Wednesday all ballot papers needed for the election had been printed and that other logistics would be available for the July 31 vote.

Rita Makarau, ZEC chairperson, told journalists that should the electorate fail to cast their ballot between the designated times on July 31, polling stations would be opened until the queues were cleared.

"We are hoping that we will be able to cater for everybody between 7am and 7pm because we have increased the number of polling stations," she said.

"But in the rare event that we still cannot manage that, we believe the right to vote should override time constraints."

Makarau's comments come after last week's early voting for police and security forces was fraught with delays following a shortage of ballot papers and ink at polling stations.

Of 63,268 eligible voters, just 37,108 people were able to cast their ballots.

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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