The International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) have selected former Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to co-chair their observer mission to Zimbabwe’s elections later this month.
According to a Zimbabwe news magazine, former President Sirleaf will be joined by US congresswoman Karen Bass, former US Assistant Secretary Connie Berry Newman and Ambassador Johnnie Carson.
Madam Sirleaf, who spoke recently on her preferment by the elections monitoring organizations, said Zimbabwe could use the election to chart a new trajectory after years of political and socioeconomic turmoil.
“These elections provide an opportunity for Zimbabwe to make a clear break with its past that would be significant not only for the Zimbabwean people, but for all of Africa,” she said.
According to Sirleaf, “no prosperity can ever be realized in Africa if countries fail to respect the tenets of democracy, which include regular elections in order to allow each given population the inherent right to access, evaluate and determine how their country should be run by those they entrust with power.”
On her own historic transition of power to an elected leader who is now President George Manneh Weah, a former soccer legend, Sirleaf said that period in her political life demonstrated a resolve of and by the people as provided for in the rules of engagement in democracy to shape the destiny of the country and exemplify the true meaning of leadership as Liberia is the first after Ethiopia to have declared its independence from outside manipulations.
US congresswoman Karen Bass said she is happy to form part of a team interested in seeing that Zimbabwe, a country that has been ruled with an iron fist by Robert Mugabe for over 30 years, gets a new history by having a democratic election void of manipulations from incumbency or whatever outside factor.
“I am delighted to be part of the leadership of this joint IRI-NDI international election observation mission. We hope our presence will contribute to more credible elections,” Bass told Zimbabwe magazine and a host of other international media outlets, including the British Broadcasting Service (BBC), recently.
With 25 long-term staff and 14 long-term observers already in the country, Madam Sirleaf’s delegation from IRI and NDI will bring in 22 short-term observers who will be arriving on Tuesday, July 24.
The Daily Observer has been informed by New Zimbabwe.com that the IRI-NDI observation effort, which began with an in-country (local IRI-NDI offices) presence on April 23, also included a June 3-8 Pre-election Assessment Mission, which issued a detailed statement at the conclusion of the mission that set forth 13 recommended steps for enhancing public confidence in the electoral process.
According to the statement, the IRI-NDI mission will conduct activities in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and Code of Conduct launched at the United Nations in 2005.
“And will base its findings on international standards for elections. The mission’s approach is consistent with regional instruments to which Zimbabwe is a signatory, including the African Union Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa and the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections,” the statement said.
It added, “all activities will be conducted on a strictly independent and nonpartisan basis and ensure that everything is done without interfering in the election process and in conformity with the laws of Zimbabwe.”
IRI-NDI have observed over 200 international elections gaining a reputation for independent assessments.
Zimbabweans will on Monday, July 30, go to the polls to elect for the first time in over 30 years a new leader without having to worry about the presence of Robert Mugabe as a politician and former leader of Zanu-PF party.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former Justice and Defense Minister, also known as “The Crocodile,” succeeded then Africa’s longest serving President Robert Mugabe on November 18, 2017, after Mugabe was ousted by a popular military measure but in safety.
Mnangagwa was a key Mugabe confidant for decades until they fell out because of the presidential ambitions of Mugabe’s wife, Grace. Despite his long association with the government that has presided over Zimbabwe’s decline, including economic collapse and human rights abuses as reported by many international media and human rights organizations, Mnangagwa has promised democracy and reached out to other countries for help.