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US to Contribute $7 Million for Zimbabwe Election Observers


The United States said Monday it will provide $7 million to support monitoring of Zimbabwe's June 27 presidential runoff election. The announcement precedes an anticipated joint U.S.-European Union call for the dispatch to Zimbabwe of a United Nations monitoring mission. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.

The Bush administration has been pressing African countries and international organizations to increase election monitoring as the crucial runoff nears.

The announcement came amid continuing reports of campaign abuses against the Zimbabwean political opposition, and an assessment Monday by Human Rights Watch that violence spurred by the Harare government has "extinguished" any chance of a free and fair election.

The runoff pits Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe, against the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai - who according to official results finished first in the March 29 election round but fell short of the majority needed to win outright.

At a news briefing, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the United States, taking its lead from the Zimbabwean opposition, is not ready to give up on the election and is putting resources behind the monitoring effort:

"We are going to contribute seven million dollars to the election observer effort, not only to insure that there are proper, sufficient numbers from countries that are going to supply the observers, but that they have the resources to do their job on the ground, should the runoff election take place, and we believe it will," he said.

A draft statement being prepared for Tuesday's U.S.-European Union summit in Slovenia reportedly will call on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to send a team to Zimbabwe immediately to monitor human rights and deter further abuses.

In the draft communiqué, made available to news agencies, President Bush and his E.U. colleagues call on the Mugabe government to immediately cease what is termed the "state-sponsored violence and intimidation" that has occurred since the March 29 voting.

Though it said there is no chance for a free election, Human Rights Watch nonetheless urged the African Union and the southern Africa regional group SADC to deploy observers, and to insist on full accountability for politically motivated crimes committed in Zimbabwe during the runoff campaign.

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