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South Africa's Mbeki Urges Zimbabwe To Hold Free And Fair Elections

Zimbabwe’s economic recovery depends on next year's presidential and general elections being free and fair, South African President Thabo Mbeki, mediator in crisis negotiations between the Harare government and its opposition, has declared.

Mr. Mbeki told journalists Sunday that he hoped the March 2008 parliamentary and presidential elections would produce a government that the people of Zimbabwe would accept and whose legitimacy the losing party would not challenge.

He added that in the case of an election that failed to be free and fair and produce the desired result, South Africa would“inevitably” feel a great burden. An estimated 3 million Zimbabweans have emigrated to South Africa, most of them illegally.

Spokesman Themba Maseko of the South African government told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the prime objective of Mr. Mbeki's mediation efforts is to bring about free and fair Zimbabwean elections in 2008.

But Cape Town-based political analyst Glenn Mpani said he doubted much progress has been made toward assuring free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...