UN issues statement as Zimbabwe arrests election observers

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THE United Nations (UN) has expressed concern over the arrest of election observers from the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) and the Election Resource Centre (ERC).

Police on Wednesday arrested 39 local observers for allegedly conducting an illegal parallel vote tabulation exercise.

UN special rapporteur on human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor, said the arrests were worrying and undermined the right to freedom of association.

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“Greatly concerned by reports that the Election Resource Centre and Zimbabwe Election Support Network data centre was raided last night (Wednesday) and staff detained.

“These organisations do vital human rights work monitoring if elections are free and fair. Attempts to intimidate them are very worrying,” Lawlor said.

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Addressing a Press conference in Harare, police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the ERC and Zesn were working with the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change to prematurely announce election results.

However, in a joint statement, ERC and Zesn dismissed the police claims.

Human rights groups have also criticised the arrest of the local observers saying it was an attempt to silence critics over the way the elections were conducted. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has said it will announce all the results within five days following the Wednesday polls.

Police and Zec have warned individuals, political parties and other groupings from announcing the results. In 2018, six unarmed civilians were shot dead in Harare as they protested the late announcement of presidential results.

— NewsDay


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