Zimbabwe is warning Western journalists will be arrested if they enter the country without official permission to cover the March 29 general elections.

An Information Ministry spokesman says the government is aware of attempts to turn journalists into election observers, or smuggle in observers. Anyone caught without accreditation could face two years in prison.

A team of foreign affairs and security specialists is reviewing accreditation applications from about 300 foreign journalists who want to cover the elections.

The government of Robert Mugabe invited election observers from 47 countries, none of which has been critical of his government. The U.S. and European Union have been excluded from sending observers.

The U.S. and EU imposed travel sanctions against members of Zimbabwe's government after observers saw evidence of rigging in the 2002 election.

Critics charge that Mr. Mugabe has rigged elections for years in order to hold onto power. The 84-year-old leader has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.