Brussels, 29 July 2013/ ACP PRESS RELEASE: In response to an invitation from the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe, the Committee of Ambassadors of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States decided, at its 863rd meeting held in Brussels, Belgium on 4 July 2013, to send an ACP Ambassadorial Mission to observe the harmonized elections – Presidential, Legislative and Local Government – to be held on 31 July 2013.
The ACP Group wishes to thank the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe for having invited the ACP Group to take part in these critical elections, the first to be held under the new Constitution adopted by referendum on 16 March 2013.
Zimbabwe is a member State of the ACP Group of States, an organisation created by the Georgetown Agreement signed in 1975 in Georgetown, Guyana. It is composed of 79 member States (soon to be 80 with the imminent accession of South Sudan) spread over three continents, with 48 of them from Sub-Saharan Africa, 16 from the Caribbean and 15 from the Pacific, representing a collective population of well over 700 million.
The ACP Elections Observation Mission will be in Zimbabwe from 29 July to 3 August 2013. The Mission will be led by H.E. Mr. Samuel O. OUTLULE, Ambassador of Botswana to Brussels and Chairman of the ACP Committee of Ambassadors, and include H.E. Fatumanava III Dr. Pa’o LUTERU, Ambassador of Samoa to Brussels and in-coming Chairman of the ACP Committee of Ambassadors, H.E. Mr. Alejandro Augusto GONZALEZ PONS, Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to Brussels and Mr. Lawrence CHILIMBOYI from the ACP Secretariat.
The ACP Mission will commence its activities on 29 July 2013, with the aim of observing, in total independence, the final preparation and conduct of the elections, in conformity with the Constitution and relevant legislation of the Republic of Zimbabwe, and other relevant international instruments and guidelines governing democratic elections.
The ACP Mission intends to meet with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission as well as representatives of the Government, political parties, diplomatic corps, civil society, and members of other election observation missions. On the day of the elections, the ACP Mission will visit polling stations in urban and in rural areas.
The ACP Group has been actively following, and engaged with, the political developments in Zimbabwe since early 2000. The Group participated in observing the 2008 elections, and welcomed the signing of the Global Political Agreement on 15 September 2008 under the mediation efforts of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). This Agreement laid the groundwork for peace and stability, Constitutional referendum and the organisation of the current elections.
The participation of the ACP Group in observing these elections reflects its support for, and full commitment to the principles of democracy, rule of law, freedom of expression and good governance. It is also in keeping with the spirit of the ACP Group’s support for, and solidarity with, the Government and people of Zimbabwe. It is part of the dynamic which continues to underpin the framework of intra-ACP political dialogue and by virtue of which the Group provides all possible assistance to Member States that are engaged in the important and continuous process of strengthening democracy, good governance and the Rule of Law. The ACP Group believes that periodic, free and fair elections are the hallmark of democratic governance and that this process must be buttressed by an electoral system that is open, transparent and representative in order to enable all eligible Zimbabweans the right and opportunity to participate in the election of their political leaders and formation of the next Government.
A full report of the mission’s observations will be submitted to the ACP Committee of Ambassadors for consideration, and subsequently to the ACP Council of Ministers for approval and appropriate follow-up actions to the observations and recommendations of the report. A copy of the final report will be made available to the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe.
The Group takes this opportunity to wish the people of Zimbabwe continued peace and stability during the elections and beyond.