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Tighten screws on Mugabe, Obama told

24 June 2013, 09:32

Cape Town – President Barack Obama should tighten screws on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's administration in order to force the regime to implement reforms ahead of polls, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said, according to Daily News.

Dewa Mavhinga, HRW’s Africa senior researcher told the US Congress last week that despite the implementation of a modicum of reforms in Zimbabwe, the political landscape remained hazardous and should be fine-tuned before the holding of this year’s watershed polls.

"During my visit to Zimbabwe last month, people told me of their great fear that the coming elections might just be another cycle of political violence because little had changed on the ground to build their confidence that they can vote freely," Mavhinga told the committee.

HRW's stance resonates with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) which on June 15, called upon Mugabe and his coalition partners, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube to work on implementing  security sector and media reforms before holding make-or-break elections.

With disagreements escalating in the four-year-old coalition over poll dates, Mavhinga called on the US to exert pressure on Mugabe through Sadc to create an environment conducive for holding credible elections.

"We call on the Obama administration to work closely with SADC and urgently take steps to: ensure the political neutrality of the security forces, namely by investigating and prosecuting alleged abuses by security force personnel and publicly directing the leadership of the security forces to carry out their responsibilities in a professional and impartial manner, and appropriately punishing or prosecuting those who fail to do so," said Mavhinga.

Zimbabwe is expected to hold elections sometime this year to end a unity government formed in 2009 following disputed elections in the previous year.

- News24


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