The Bahamas is closely monitoring the situation in the Republic of Zimbabwe and has called for return to “democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights”, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said this week.
The statement came in wake of the political unrest following Zimbabwe’s elections on March 29, 2008, and reports of an assassination plot against Opposition Leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
“The Bahamas recognized the value and influence of Zimbabwe’s neighbours in mediating the political crisis and like many countries with a strong tradition of holding free and fair elections, we were concerned that the electoral commission took inordinately long to publish the official results of the March 29 elections,” the ministry said.
The Bahamas also adopted the same position at the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) at its Eleventh Meeting in St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda, May 7 – 9.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs the Hon Brent Symonette represented The Bahamas. He was accompanied by Ambassador-At-Large Joshua Sears.
The Community expressed “grave concern” that the results of Zimbabwe’s national elections were made public after weeks of delay, thereby raising serious doubts over the integrity of the process.
“There continues to be great uncertainty about the electoral process which has not only been tainted by inordinate delays and grave irregularities underlined by observers, but which is now further marred by reports of threats, intimidation and violence against opponents,” said the foreign ministers.
Members of the Caribbean Community were at the forefront of the international campaign against apartheid and continuing colonialism in Southern Africa in the latter half of the 20th century.
“They therefore feel compelled to call on Zimbabwe’s authorities, with the assistance of that country’s close neighbours in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), to do all in their power to ensure that Zimbabwe’s electoral procedures, as well as the civil and political rights of Zimbabweans, is reflected in the final outcome of this electoral process.
“A fair resolution to the electoral impasse will pave the way for political equity and soci-economic development in the country,” said COFCOR.
The Bahamas’ role in the fight against apartheid in South Africa commenced at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in Nassau in 1985. It continued into the Special Heads of Government Conference in London in 1986, Vancouver, 1987, and in Malaysia in 1989.
At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Harare, Zimbabwe member states agreed to the Harare Commonwealth Declaration, 1991 which states, “we believe in the liberty of the individual under the law, in equal rights for all citizens regardless of gender, race, colour, creed or political belief, and in the individual’s inalienable right to participate by means of free and democratic political process in framing the society in which he or she lives.”
Zimbabwe, located southern Africa, was suspended from the Commonwealth in 2002 and subsequently left in 2003. The suspension was meted out for Zimbabwe’s “persistent human rights violations and deliberate misgovernment in violation of the Harare Principles,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted.
The Bahamas has diplomatic relations with Zimbabwe, but the post of High Commissioner is vacant. The last High Commissioner to The Bahamas was His Excellency Lillie Chitauro, currently serving as High Commissioner to Canada.