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Zimbabwe9 March 2002

Journalists barred from vote-counting sites

image 140 x 142 (JPEG) Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières - RSF) vigorously opposes the decision made by Zimbabwean authorities to deny journalists access to the country’s vote-counting sites. "This measure, taken just before the election, shows how determined Zimbabwean authorities are to prevent the press from carrying on its work of informing the public. This decision seriously discredits the very transparency of the presidential election," stated Robert Ménard, RSF’s General Secretary. "The government has never stopped harassing Zimbabwean and foreign journalists, and tightening its control of information, and will do so until the bitter end. It is imperative that the international community sanction President Robert Mugabe and exert all of its influence to re-establish freedom of the press in the country," added Mr. Ménard. RSF urges the government to reconsider its decision and to allow journalists to freely cover the election on Saturday and Sunday.

According to information obtained by RSF, Zimbabwe’s Official Gazette announced on 8 March 2002 that journalists will not be permitted to cover the counting of votes. Furthermore, only polling station managers will be authorised to allow journalists to observe the process.

On the same occasion, the Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo, declared that non-accredited journalists would be "arrested and prosecuted." He added that it would be "a very, very long time" before they could "return to their country."

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