Olusegun Obasanjo to lead AU poll observers

Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo will lead a team of 60 African Union monitors to Zimbabwe for the July 31 election, the organisation said Friday.

Obasanjo will arrive in Zimbabwe 10 days before the vote, which has already been overshadowed by allegations of political intimidation and electoral rolls packed with “ghost voters”.

In a statement, the AU said the monitors — drawn from African NGOs and member countries — will work with nine observers already on the ground.

A former soldier, Obasanjo headed  a military government between 1976 and 1979 and served an eight-year term as an elected president between May 1999 and May 2007.

Mr Obasanjo  was part of the troika of Commonwealth leaders which announced the suspension  of Zimbabwe from the  from the Commonwealth in 2002. Zimbabwe was suspended for a year after election observers found that the 2002 elections, which returned President Robert Mugabe to power, were seriously flawed.

After lengthy deliberations at Marlborough House in London, Mr Howard, chairman of the troika which also included South African’s then President Thabo Mbeki, said the observers had concluded that the elections were “marred by a high level of politically motivated violence”, and conditions did not allow adequately for a free expression of will by the electorate.

Zimbabwe subsequently withdrew its membership in 2003.

Design and development supported by HURIDOCS.