Free and fair elections in Zimbabwe a US government ‘priority’: ambassador

BULAWAYO – The acting United States ambassador to Zimbabwe says his government will be watching the conduct of the Zimbabwe’s general elections in 2023 with keen interest.

Thomas Hastings made the remarks during a press briefing after touring various projects supported by his government in Bulawayo on Wednesday.

“It’s certainly our hope that Zimbabwe holds free, fair and credible elections but it’s up to the government of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to make that a reality,” Hastings said.

“I took part in the by-elections as an observer two months ago as did many of my colleagues in the embassy and many other diplomats who are stationed here.

“I’m sure for national elections there will be more observers but it’s not just observing on the election day that matters; it is the entire infrastructure that goes into the work – the voters’ roll, whether people are allowed to campaign freely and free of violence and months and weeks leading into the election. We will be watching those things very closely because free and fair elections are a priority of my government.”

Hastings said they shared some of their concerns with the Zimbabwe government including “some acts of violence that occurred in the lead up to the by-elections and confusion as to who should vote where which I saw with my own eyes at some polling stations.”

The United States remains concerned about human rights abuses being committed by security services which makes it hard for sanctions on Zimbabwe’s ruling elite to be lifted, Hastings said.

“Sanctions are in place and when my government believes they’re no longer necessary, they will be removed. We do try to continue to talk the government about our underlying concerns, not the sanctions so much, but the human rights and democracy concerns which are the reasons my government imposed those sanctions in the first place,” he said.

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