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Zimbabwean NGO Coalition Questions Credibility of March Election Round

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a grouping of nongovernmental organizations, said Tuesday that it does not believe national elections set for March 29 will be free and fair because the electoral environment remains hostile even following an 11-month round of South African mediated talks between the ruling party and opposition.

Correspondent Sylvia Manika of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported.

An eminent expert on elections agreed it will be difficult to hold free and fair elections given the conditions identified by independent observers like the Crisis Coalition. Dr. Reginald Matchaba-Hove, a physician and former chairman of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, said he fears the elections could be more turbulent than the presidential and general elections of 2002 and 2005, respectively.

According to ZESN, the 2002 presidential election was “the most highly contested election, if not the most violent, since the independence election of 1980.”

Matchaba-Hove told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the forthcoming elections could be all the more contentious given the failure of the South African mediated talks to yield a solution to the political-economic crisis.

VOA correspondent Peta Thornycroft reported from Harare that uncertainty is on the rise in Zimbabwe as politicians and analysts conclude that President Robert Mugabe is likely to face a runoff following March 29 presidential ballot.

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