Carter Centre barred from monitoring Zimbabwe election By KITSEPILE NYATHI in Harare | Thursday, July 11   2013 at  09:34

The Carter Centre, founded by former US President Jimmy Carter, has to date observed 94 elections in 37 countries. PHOTO | FILE 

Zimbabwe has rejected an application by a centre founded by former United States President Jimmy Carter to observe the July 31 elections.

The Carter Centre, which has observed 94 elections in 37 countries, was one of the many international observer missions that had applied to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) but were turned down.

President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party has vowed that western countries that have imposed sanctions on its leadership will not be allowed to observe the crucial polls.

“ZEC chairperson Rita Makarau on July 9 informed the Carter Centre that our application to observe the forthcoming national elections in Zimbabwe has been turned declined,” the centre said in a statement Thursday.

“While the Centre regrets this news, it respects the commission’s decision. Without accreditation, the Carter Centre will not be able to conduct an international election observation mission.”

President Mugabe’s opponents have claimed that Zanu PF is working with an Israeli company to manipulate the polls.

The 89-year-old leader will face his long time rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (62), and Industry and Commerce minister Professor Welshman Ncube (52), in the polls.

African Union and Southern African Development Community (SADC) observers are already in the country for the elections.

The Carter Centre called for a free and fair election, saying the presence of international observers would ensure that the outcome is legitimate.

Zimbabwe’s last presidential election in 2008 was rejected as a fraud by the international community after President Mugabe ran alone in the runoff poll.

This was after Mr Tsvangirai who had won the first round of the polls was forced to pull out of the race by widespread violence targeting his supporters.