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Zimbabwean Youths In S. Africa Demand Fair Elections With Observers

About 200 young Zimbabweans staged a demonstration Thursday at the Zimbabwean consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa, presenting a petition demanding that the national elections coming up March 29 in their homeland be free and fair.

Members of the Zimbabwe Youth Network, a coalition of young expatriates, also urged the Harare government to admit international observers.

The youths handed a petition stating their demands to consulate officials. Organizers of the protest said a similar one will be held Friday at Zimbabwe's Pretoria embassy.

Harare has said it will not invite observers from countries it considers hostile.

Zimbabwe Youth Network Coordinator Munjodzi Mutandiri told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that the group does not expect the government to respond favorably to the demands, adding that members will take to the streets if the election is stolen.

Also in Johannesburg, Zimbabwe’s Christian Alliance met with regional partners and resolved to send a delegation to Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, currently chairman of the African Union, to inform him on conditions in Zimbabwe.

Christian Alliance Director Useni Sibanda said the meeting provided an opportunity to explain in detail to representatives of Southern African Development Community member countries what has been happening in Zimbabwe following the failure of the so-called SADC process which South African President Thabo Mbeki mediated.

The group said Mr. Mbeki has not represented the outcome of the talks accurately - his government has described them as a success though the Zimbabwean opposition and most observers consider the negotiations to have ultimately failed. Meanwhile, said Sibanda, the crisis in Zimbabwe has grown even deeper.

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