In the run up to the second round of the presidential election in Zimbabwe, initially scheduled for 27 June 2008, there has been an escalation in the use of force and acts of violence including arbitrary arrests and detentions, death threats, disappearances, torture, intimidation acts, surveillance visits and breakdown of offices perpetrated by State-agents to silence the political opposition as well as against human rights defenders , journalists and ordinary citizens perceived as supporting the opposition.
It is in this context that Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition party announced, on 22 June 2008, its decision to withdraw from the second round of the Zimbabwe presidential elections so as to curb those politically instigated violences perpetrated by State-agents against members of the opposition. This withdrawal questions all the more the credibility of this ballot. If FIDH and Zimrights welcome the African Union Commission chairman Jean Ping’s declaration about his "grave concern" over this situation, they call on a much stronger reaction from the African Union (AU).
On the occasion of the 11th Summit of the African Union, which is being held in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt, since 24th June and until 1st July, and considering the grave violations of the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, of the Constitutive Act of the AU and of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, FIDH and Zimrights call on the African Union to urge the government of Zimbabwe to postpone this second tour so as to guarantee free and fair elections. Should Zimbabwe decide to maintain this 27 June ballot, in spite of the appeal of the African Heads of State, hence taking the risk to worsen the human rights situation, FIDH and Zimrights call on the African Union to suspend this country from its right to participate in its activities.
"We are deeply concerned over this electoral masquerade which led to grave violations of human rights and which denied all Zimbabweans’ right to express their political will in a safe environment. The African Union must not remain silent and should seize the opportunity of its Summit in Sharm El Sheik to take a strong decision: threatening to suspend Zimbabwe from the activitites of the Union if it decides to maintain the second round is what we call a strong decision," declared Souhayr Belhassen, President of FIDH.