European Union Agrees to Send Election Observers to Zimbabwe

(Bloomberg) -- The European Union said it will send a delegation to monitor Zimbabwe’s general elections for the first time in 16 years as relations between the southern African nation and Western countries continue to improve.

Zimbabwe is required by its constitution to hold general and presidential elections by Aug. 22. The vote will be the first without Robert Mugabe, who stepped down as the nation’s leader in November, since 1980. President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the 75-year-old former intelligence chief who replaced Mugabe, has been nominated by the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front as its presidential candidate.

Five elections between 2000 and 2013 were marred by allegations of rigging, violence and intimidation, with Western nations accusing Mugabe of human-rights abuses and manipulating the vote. The EU has been blocked from observing polls since after the 2002 vote.

The EU’s observer team will be “a significant additional support to Zimbabwe’s democratisation process,” the bloc said in an emailed statement on Friday.

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