via Zim: Khama maintains SADC boycott 14/04/2014 NewZimbabwe
BOTSWANA President Ian Khama says his government has no immediate plans of redeploying its nationals to Sadc’s election observer missions.
Khama is protesting the observer group consciously endorsed Zimbabwe’s election outcome last year despite glaring evidence of vote fraud by incumbent leader Robert Mugabe.
“In the interest of public understanding and in light of recent media speculation over Botswana’s participation in Southern African Development Community (SADC) election observer missions, the Government of Botswana wishes re-affirm its position to not send official observers to participate in such missions,” the Botswana leader said through Jeff Ramsey, his spokesman.
Khama, a strong critic of President Mugabe’s rule, is adamant the observer group ignored the guidelines agreed among regional leaders as benchmarks for any poll to be declared free and fair, when it took part in Zimbabwe’s controversial July 31, 2013 poll.
President Mugabe, 90, romped to victory with a 62 percent majority of the national vote, in what his challengers felt was a stolen result.
SADC and fellow African observer missions cherry picked by the Zimbabwean leader’s government were quick to declare the poll as a free expression by Zimbabweans.
But Khama, an ally to Zimbabwe’s former Prime Minister and opposition MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, refused to follow fellow African leaders in congratulating Mugabe.
“As has been previously communicated, Botswana’s decision to suspend its participation in SADC observer missions was taken last year after the Government of Botswana raised its concerns about compliance with the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections,” said Ramsay.
“In this respect, the Government of Botswana remains engaged on this matter with the appropriate SADC structures.”
Ramsay said the move by Khama’s government was based on principle.
“Further to the above, Botswana’s position is based on a matter of principle and thus not targeted at any institution or state.”