Memorandum from Baroness Amos, Parliamentary
Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
When I gave evidence to your Committee on 12
December, Sir John Stanley asked for clarification on a point
concerning election observers. He asked specifically whether or
not the Zimbabwean government "is making a ban on observers
from Britain or indeed from any other EU country".
We have consulted our High Commission in Harare.
The Government of Zimbabwe has not explicitly banned observers
from the UK or other European countries. But they have made it
clear that only invited teams of observers will be welcome.
President Mugabe told visiting SADC Ministers
in December that SADC, OAU, ECOWAS and the Commonwealth would
be invited to send observers. He said that he would not be inviting
the EU as a bloc, but some "good" EU countries might
be invited to send observers in their own right. In his opening
address to the ZANU(PF) Congress last weekend, President Mugabe
singled out France, Spain and Italy as EU countries who had been
more supportive of Zimbabwe's intention to consider observers
from those countries.
If the Government of Zimbabwe does invite the
Commonwealth to send observers, that team might include UK obervers,
unless the Zimbabwe Government specifically ruled that out. Whether
or not UK obervers were invited, it would be difficult for the
Government of Zimbabwe to ban accredited British diplomats at
the High Commission from some sort of observation role. But it
would be hard for our High Commission to get wide access without
As you will understand, it is impossible to
be definitive at this stage. The Government of Zimbabwe may change
its position at any stage, and any answer is therefore provisional.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
9 January 2002