Zimbabwean Bishops Call for Fair Elections

Urge Media to Be Watchdogs for Human Rights

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HARARE, Zimbabwe, OCT. 6, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Zimbabwe’s Catholic bishops have called on the government to ensure a credible electoral process in order to achieve fair elections in 2005.

In a pastoral letter entitled «A Credible Electoral Process for a Responsible and Accountable Leadership,» the bishops lament that past elections have been marred by claims of rigging, intimidation and violence.

«The way elections have been conducted in our country since 2000 has been controversial and marked by serious violence,» the bishops said in their statement that was dated Aug. 6 but only released last Saturday.

«Individual Christians can make their own decisions as to which party comes closest to the Christian ethos and their aspirations in this life and vote accordingly,» the bishops said. «The Church respects each individual decision and this reality is evident in all our congregations composed of members belonging to all existing parties.»

The bishops called on the government to uphold freedom of the press while the media were asked to be watchdogs of the human rights that are enshrined in the national constitution, and to be fair and truthful in their reporting.

«It is important that all political parties have access to media coverage so that they can inform citizens about how they intend to govern if they are elected into power,» the prelates said. «A political system that operates in such a way that only one party has access to a proper coverage by media cannot claim to be democratic.»

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