EU mission urges Zimbabwe to improve ballot access

Picture of people carrying small Zimbabwean flags.
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A European Union (EU) election observer mission urged Zimbabwe’s election agency to be more open about the printing and storage of ballot papers to enhance the credibility of a July 30 presidential and parliamentary vote.

The southern African nation will hold its first election since a November army coup ended Robert Mugabe’s near four-decade rule and paved the way for his long-time ally Emmerson Mnangagwa to become president.

For the first time since 2002, foreign observers are monitoring the vote.

If they give it a seal of approval it will allow Harare to repair ties with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to access the large-scale funding it needs to rebuild the economy.

The run-up to the vote has been largely peaceful compared with past elections, but a dispute between the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) over ballots threatens to mar its credibility.

MDC leader Nelson Chamisa said there would be no election without an agreement between ZEC and political parties on the printing, storage and distribution of ballot papers.

The MDC has planned protests for next week.

Mark Stevens, EU Election Observer Mission (EUOM) deputy chief observer, told reporters that he was in favour of allowing political parties greater access to the printing of ballot papers.