Zimbabwe bishops demand fair elections as Mugabe secures his position

Zimbabwe’s Catholic bishops have asked their government to ensure free and fair elections, SW Radio Africa reports.

The country’s Catholic Bishops Conference issued a pastoral letter recently voicing concern over past elections, which at times were accompanied by violence and intimidation.  The letter urged the Zimbabwean government to “establish a credible electoral process, whose outcome will be free and fair and with local and international recognition.”

The letter, titled “Only when power stands under God's blessing can it be trusted,” said that Christian teachings and values should influence public life.  It encouraged Christians to become more involved in political life by running for office, working within political parties, and communicating with elected officials.  The bishops also emphasized the importance of principled involvement, saying, “Voting should be guided more by one's moral convictions than by one's attachment to a political party or interest group.”

The prelates also noted that the same concerns they raised in a 2004 letter were still present. Urging political parties to avoid provocative campaigns, the bishops declared their support for the freedom of political parties, voter registration, and voter education.

Several signs have raised doubts that a free and fair election will take place. The current president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, secured the sole nomination of his political party last week. In addition, the war veterans have thrown their support behind the Mugabe dictatorship, which, some observers believe, means he will use violence if he faces political defeat.  The political opposition has already reported widespread acts of violence in parts of the country.

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