SECRETARY-GENERAL STRONGLY SUPPORTS SADC EFFORTS
NEW YORK, 15 January (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:
The Secretary-General welcomes the urgent attention given to the situation in Zimbabwe by the Summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) held in Malawi on 14 January. He notes the firm assurances given to the Summit by the Government of Zimbabwe on the free and fair conduct of the approaching elections.
The Secretary-General is acutely concerned by the promulgation in Zimbabwe of laws that would severely restrict the ability of political parties to campaign freely, and would limit the freedom of the press. He emphasizes that freedom of assembly and association, as well as free and vigorous mass media, protected by a strong and independent judiciary, are essential building blocks of democracy. These are key features of the New Partnership for African Development, to which all African states have subscribed –- and indeed, basic principles of SADC itself.
The Secretary-General is aware of the importance of Zimbabwe to Central and Southern Africa, and strongly supports the steps taken by the SADC to facilitate free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. He encourages the Government of Zimbabwe to implement fully and faithfully the actions it has promised to take, including ensuring freedom of speech and assembly, admitting international observers, investigating political violence and scrupulously respecting the rule of law.
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