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Zimbabwe's Mugabe Meets Regional Observers, Promises 'Free' Elections

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe on Wednesday officially received an election observer mission sent by the Southern African Development Community, reportedly promising that the country's March 29 elections would be "transparent and free."

Heading the mission in the meeting with Mr. Mugabe was Angolan Foreign Minister Joao Miranda, who passed on a verbal message from his president, Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, now chairman of SADC's committee on politics, defense and security.

Miranda later said he received from President Mugabe an assurance that the March 29 elections would be “successful, coherent, transparent and free.”

But the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has been inundated with complaints from civil society as well as opposition parties about political violence, an insufficient number of polling stations, the inadequacy of voter education programs, and other issues.

Human rights lawyer Irene Petras, deputy chairwoman of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that while ZEC has a limited legal capacity to deal with such complaints, it is very premature for SADC to issue statements regarding election conditions.

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