African Bishops Seek Election Delay

Southern Africa’s Catholic bishops urged the region’s governments to intervene in Zimbabwe, where they warned elections would be “dangerously premature” if held this year. “Conditions in the country are emphatically not conducive to elections in 2011,” the Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa said in a statement on Feb. 22 addressed to Angola’s President José Eduardo dos Santos, who heads the Southern African Development Community. Zimbabwe has not yet scheduled elections, but President Robert Mugabe has said they would be held this year. The bishops said reports have emerged that Mugabe is preparing to restrict freedom of association among the people, impose stricter limits on the media and use an outdated voters’ roll. “The nation is in the grip of extreme fear, polarization is still evident” and there are “increasing signs of intimidation” and violence as the election campaign builds, they said.

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