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Mugabe Pushes For UN Election Funding, Party Hardliners Resist External Support

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Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe met Finance Minister Tendai Biti and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa on Friday to discuss election funding amid reports that some hardliners in his Zanu-PF party are pushing government to withdraw its request from the United Nations for elections funding.

A United Nations assessment team led by Tadjoudine Ali Diabacte, a member of the UN Electoral Assistance Division, is expected to visit Harare to assess the country’s needs ahead of the elections.

But the state-controlled Herald newspaper reports that Zimbabwe is considering withdrawing its request because Harare is not happy with what it calls conditions tied to the request.

Zanu-PF sources told VOA that some in the party fear that the UN may require election observer teams from Western countries to be admitted if assistance is provided. Zanu-PF says Western election observers will not be welcome.

Biti confirmed that some so-called hardliners in Zanu-PF oppose the UN mission and want Harare to re-think its position.

In a statement, the United Nations says that this type of assessment is standard procedure whenever the world body is asked to provide funding.

VOA could not reach Mr. Chinamasa or Zanu-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo, as they were said to be in meetings.

However, VOA reached Mr. Biti, who described his meeting with President Mugabe as fruitful and said he expects the UN mission to come to Harare next week though there is resistance from some elements in Zanu-PF.

Clifford Mashiri, an international relations expert who was once attached to the Zimbabwe Mission in Ethiopia, said the UN as the funding agency has every right to assess the situation on the ground.
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