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Elders join African leaders in call for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe

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Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan, Lakhdar Brahimi and Graça Machel join their fellow African civil society leaders to urge an end to violence and intimidation in Zimbabwe ahead of the presidential run-off elections.

Four members of the Elders, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan, Lakhdar Brahimi, Graça Machel, have joined their fellow African civil society leaders in urging an end to violence and intimidation in Zimbabwe ahead of the presidential run-off elections at the end of the month.

In an open letter, dozens of Africa’s most respected leaders call for the election to be conducted in a peaceful and transparent manner and demand that all of the people of Zimbabwe be allowed to vote freely and without fear of retribution.

“The eyes of the world are watching Zimbabwe and it is critical that the people are allowed to express their political will,” said Archbishop Tutu. “The violence and intimidation we have seen in recent weeks are simply unacceptable and I urge people around the world to speak up in support of the people of Zimbabwe and their right to choose their leaders.”

Civil society organisations and individuals can show their support for the people of Zimbabwe by adding their names to the open letter.

The full text of the letter and its signatories follow:

Zimbabweans fought for liberation in order to be able to determine their own future. Great sacrifices were made during the liberation struggle. To live up to the aspirations of those who sacrificed, it is vital that nothing is done to deny the legitimate expression of the will of the people of Zimbabwe.

As Africans we consider the forthcoming elections to be critical. We are aware of the attention of the world. More significantly we are conscious of the huge number of Africans who want to see a stable, democratic and peaceful Zimbabwe

Consequently, we are deeply troubled by the current reports of intimidation, harassment and violence. It is vital that the appropriate conditions are created so that the Presidential run-off is conducted in a peaceful, free and fair manner. Only then can the political parties conduct their election campaigning in a way that enables the citizens to express freely their political will.

In this context, we call for an end to the violence and intimidation, and the restoration of full access for humanitarian and aid agencies.

To this end it will be necessary to have an adequate number of independent electoral observers, both during the election process and to verify the results.

Whatever the outcome of the election, it will be vital for all Zimbabweans to come together in a spirit of reconciliation to secure Zimbabwe’s future.

We further call upon African leaders at all levels - pan-African, regional and national - and their institutions to ensure the achievement of these objectives.

The Signatories are:

  • Abdusalami Alhaji Abubakar Former President of Nigeria (1998-1999)
  • Kofi Annan Former Secretary-General of the United Nations (1997-2007), Nobel Laureate and member of The Elders
  • Kwame Appiah Laurence S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University
  • Boutros Boutros-Ghali Former Secretary-General of the United Nations (1992-1997)
  • Lakhdar Brahimi Former United Nations Special Representative for Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq and South Africa, member of The Elders
  • Pierre Buyoya Former President of Burundi (1987-1993, 1996-2003)
  • Joaquim Chissano Former President of Mozambique (1986-2005)
  • John Githongo Former Permanent Secretary for Governance and Ethics in Kenya
  • Richard Goldstone Former Judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa
  • Mo Ibrahim Founder of Celtel International and Founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation
  • Sam Jonah Former Chief Executive of the Ashanti Goldfields Corporation
  • Angelique Kidjo Musician and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador
  • Wangari Maathai Founder of the Green Belt Movement and Nobel Laureate
  • Graça Machel President of the Foundation for Community Development and member of The Elders
  • Ketumile Masire Former President of Botswana (1980-1998)
  • Moeletsi Mbeki Deputy Chairman of the South African Institute of International Affairs
  • Benjamin William Mkapa Former President of Tanzania (1995-2005)
  • Festus Mogae Former President of Botswana (1998-2008)
  • António Mascarenhas Monteiro Former President of Cape Verde (1991-2001)
  • Elson Bakili Muluzi Former President of Malawi (1994-2004)
  • Ali Hassan Mwinyi Former President of Tanzania (1985-1995)
  • Kumi Naidoo Secretary General of CIVICUS
  • Babacar Ndiaye Former President of the African Development Bank
  • Youssou N'Dour Musician and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador
  • Njongonkulu Ndungane Former Archbishop of Cape Town and Founder of the African Monitor
  • Moustapha Niasse Former Prime Minister of Senegal (1983, 2000-2001)
  • Loyiso Nongxa Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the Witwatersrand
  • Karl Offmann Former President of Mauritius (2002-2003)
  • Mamphela Ramphele Former Managing Director of the World Bank and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Town
  • Jerry John Rawlings Former President of Ghana (1993-2001)
  • Johann Rupert Chairman of Remgro Limited
  • Mohammed Sahnoun Former UN/OAU Special Representative for the Great Lakes region of Africa and former Assistant Secretary-General of the OAU
  • Salim Ahmed Salim Former Prime Minister of Tanzania (1994-1995) and former Secretary-General of the OAU (1989-2001)
  • John Sentamu Archbishop of York
  • Nicéphore Dieudonné Soglo Former President of Benin (1991-1996)
  • Miguel Trovoada Former President of São Tomé and Príncipe (1991-2001)
  • Desmond Tutu Nobel Laureate and Chairman of The Elders
  • Cassam Uteem Former President of Mauritius (1992-2002)
  • Zwelinzima Vavi General Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions
  • Joseph Sinde Warioba Former Prime Minister of Tanzania (1985-1990)

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