Washington - The United States on Thursday called for the "broadest possible monitoring" of Zimbabwe's upcoming referendum on a new constitution.
"That's the best way to ensure the integrity of the process for the Zimbabwean people who've been waiting a very, very long time to have more democracy," said State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland.
After four years of debate, Zimbabwe finally has a draft constitution that will be put to citizens Saturday in a referendum.
The new constitution proposes modest reforms to basic rights but, significantly, would not hinder President Robert Mugabe from running for another term as head of the state he has governed for nearly 33 years, first as premier and then as president.
All three major political parties in the country are backing the charter, which is expected to easily pass.
In her remarks, Nuland was referring to reports that the electoral commission of Zimbabwe had refused to accredit members of the Zimbabwe human rights association as election monitors.
Nuland also said the US welcomed the fact that the referendum was taking place, setting the stage for elections later this year.
"That's a very, very big step for Zimbabwe," she said.