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Zambian Minister Urges Peaceful Zimbabwe Election

Zambian Tourism Minister Sylvia Masebo
Zambian Tourism Minister Sylvia Masebo has called on Zimbabwe to avoid a violent election for the sake of the upcoming United Nations World Tourism Organization General Assembly to be co-hosted by the two neighbors in August.

Addressing a news conference in Livingstone on Tuesday after a first leg cross-border cycling tour with U.S. Ambassadors to Harare and Lusaka, Bruce Wharton and Mark Storella, Masebo said the success of the tourism conference hinged on Zimbabwe delivering an uncontested election.

Speaking at the same press conference, Ambassador Wharton urged the Zimbabwean military to steer away from politics, according to journalist Pindai Dube.

Security chiefs are on record saying they will never hand over power to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai if he won ahead of President Robert Mugabe, in power since independence in 1980.

The cycling tour by the U.S. diplomats, together with Zimbabwean and Zambian officials, aims to promote international tourism, economic growth and the conservation of wildlife.

Political and economic analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said Masebo's statements were spot on, adding that Zimbabwe should punt the election until after the tourism conference.

"My interpretation of the statement is very simple. He is actually saying that under the current conditions, an election cannot be done without a disputed outcome that is going to disturb the flow and stability of the conference," Ngwenya said.