WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on African Affairs, released the following statement after the July 30 election in Zimbabwe.
“As members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on African Affairs, we strongly condemn yesterday’s violence in Harare, Zimbabwe, following elections on July 30. We call upon leaders of all political parties, especially ZANU-PF and MDC, to refrain from violence and to urge their supporters to remain calm and peaceful as the election results become available.
“Just days ago, on July 30, millions of Zimbabweans cast their vote in a landmark election, the first since the fall of longtime dictator Robert Mugabe. Though the results of the election are not yet certified, we are encouraged by the level of citizen engagement. This election represents progress for Zimbabwe’s democracy as an estimated 75 percent of Zimbabweans turned out to vote, and many waited hours in line to do so, demonstrating their strong desire to select their country’s leaders.
“Despite this, we are appalled by yesterday’s attacks that have killed at least three people in downtown Harare. Violence of this kind is unacceptable. In addition, we are concerned that in the run up to the election the state-run media heavily favored the ZANU-PF party, and that traditional leaders in rural areas were reportedly intimidating voters and using state resources to gain an electoral advantage.
“As the election results are announced, we hope Zimbabwe can maintain peace and preserve this opening for democracy in the weeks and months to come. We call upon the political leaders of all parties, and all Zimbabweans, to promote national unity and refrain from inciting violence. We stand with the people of Zimbabwe in their democratic journey. This election can be one important step along a path toward broader political and economic freedom if Zimbabweans refrain from further violence and respect the outcome of the polls.”