Zimbabwe?s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has described as utterly foolish a pronouncement by the government not to invite western poll observers ahead of the election run-off. The MDC said the Robert Mugabe-led government is determined to use foul means to thwart an imminent opposition victory. This comes after justice minister Patrick Chinamasa reportedly said the government would not invite election observers from Western countries to monitor a presidential run-off unless Western sanctions against Zimbabwe are lifted.

Main opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who claimed victory in the March 29 elections, has said he would only be part of the run-off if international observers and media were given full access to ensure the vote is free and fair. Eliphas Mukonoweshuro is the international affairs secretary of the MDC. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, Harare that the government?s pronouncement is contemptible.

?The MDC position is quite clear, we don?t control the legislative process in the United States, in the European Union or in any country whatsoever. These countries make their own determination as to whether they have a friendship with Mr. Mugabe government or not. So, in actual sense, Mr. Chinamasa is being foolish by telling us that we should tell the United States or the European Union to change their policies,? Mukonoweshuro noted.

He urged the international community to increase scrutiny on the ruling ZANU-PF party ahead of a possible election run-off.

?The international community should watch the government of Zimbabwe; they should watch Mr. Mugabe and his associates. They are saying they want free and fair election. Free and a fair election has to be observed by any friend of Zimbabwe to get a ticket to come to this country to witness the process. The international community must now question whether or not Mr. Mugabe and his associates are interested in such an election, which is free and fair because Mr. Mugabe and his associates are putting so many qualifications, which make it very, very difficult for anybody who is not a friend of ZANU-PF to come to this country and observe the election,? he said.

Mukonoweshuro condemned as nonsense speculations of possible treason charges against main opposition leader Tsvangirai.

?Mr. Tsvangirai did not run away from Zimbabwe, Mr. Tsvangirai was doing diplomatic work abroad. He has not committed any crime in Zimbabwe. He is as far as we are concerned as MDC free to come back to Zimbabwe. Of course if anything should happen to Mr. Tsvangirai, if he is arrested that should be regarded by the international community as a crime against a man leading a political party doing everything that is possible to facilitate the democratic process,? Mukonoweshuro pointed out.

He said demands by the MDC to have international observers ahead of the elections run-off is in accordance with the promises made to the party by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

?Mr. Tsvangirai is not saying that in his own accord. Mr. Tsvangirai is simply repeating the assurances given to us by the Southern African Development Community that every step possible would be implemented to ensure a free and fair election. So, the people who must answer that is the SADC to ensure that there are free and fair elections in this country,? he said.