James Duddridge is the Member of Parliament for Rochford and Southend East. Follow James on Twitter.
Earlier this year, the EU lifted a number of sanctions on Zimbabwe following the implementation of a new constitution, to widespread international acclaim. Since then, however, the constitutionand everything it stands for, has been totally disregarded by the country’s leader, Robert Mugabe.
Allegations of vote rigging are nothing new in certain African countries, as elsewhere. But even by previous standards, what has taken place in Zimbabwe with the voters rol,l and within the ‘early voting' over the last week, is a shocking reminder of the illegitimate manner in which President Mugabe continues to operate in total contempt of international law.
Whilst thankfully we have yet to see the violence that has dominated previous elections, intimidation, frustration, and manipulation of the electorate has been rife, particularly within the regions which traditionally support the leading Mugabe-opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). This election faces the bleak possibility of being lost even before polling day through vote rigging and stuffed ballot boxes, without the smoking gun of violence.