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22 Apr 2009 20:18
South Africa sets an exemplary standard for elections, observers to the elections told the Mail & Guardian Online on Wednesday evening.
Only observers from African countries are in South Africa to monitor the national elections.
Observers from the African Union, Pan African Parliament (PAP), Southern African Development Community (SADC) as well as from Nigeria and Zimbabwe came to see whether the elections are free and fair.
“We are not here for an investigation, rather to show support for the process,” Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, who heads the AU observer team said.
“There is no reason for concern here.
There are strong institutions and great tolerance despite the past.
Salim pointed to xenophobic attacks last year as the only significant blot on the country’s reconciliation track record.
“There is also so much enthusiasm by young people. It is an example to other countries on the continent,” he said.
European countries accredited their diplomats based in Pretoria to act as observers, but the European Union did not send an observer team.
“The IEC has a good reputation and a positive track record to monitor elections. In other places there would be a lack of capacity to draft the lists and print ballot papers. We would only consider sending teams if there was a potential for violence or a threat to the stability of the country,” a European diplomat told the M&G Online.
According to IEC chairperson Brigalia Bam South Africa has decided to allow observers for the elections but not election monitors.
The difference is that the monitors are able to intervene if there are problems at voting stations while observers may only report on problems after it took place, said Bam said.
Read more from Mandy Rossouw
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