March 11, 2004

ZIMBABWE: MDC resolves to boycott 2005 poll

The main opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has made a formal resolution to boycott the forthcoming 2005 general election, citing an uneven political playing field. According to MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai his party would not participate in any future elections unless the ruling ZANU PF made genuine efforts to ensure that the polls meet internationally accepted standards. "The MDC, through its national executive, has resolved to reserve the party's right to take part in the 2005 parliamentary election unless there is genuine commitment from the Mugabe regime to run the polls in accordance with universally accepted norms and standards," Tsvangirai said. The party's national executive furthermore set 15 conditions, which it says the government has to fulfil before the opposition party can reconsider its decision to boycott future polls. Demands from the MDC include the setting up of an independent electoral body, the supply of electronic copies of the voters' roll to all interested parties, the repeal of draconian laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Public Order and Security Act as well as the disbanding of the youth militia. The party is also demanding that voting should take place in one day, that counting should take place at polling stations and that transparent ballot boxes and visible, indelible ink should be used in all polls. In addition, the MDC wants an amendment of the Electoral Act to conform to the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum's electoral standards and norms as well as the re-opening of the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai informed that the decision to boycott future elections coincided with his party's plans, together with a number of civic groups, to roll out massive mass action to force the government to accept its demands. "A broad-based alliance of democratic forces is putting final touches to a comprehensive programme of rolling mass action designed to push the regime to the long-awaited negotiated settlement . . . details of the intensive programme of democratic activity will be made public in due course," he announced. (Financial Gazette, Harare)


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