The Elders today called on all political, military and civil society leaders in Zimbabwe to work together towards free and fair elections and a peaceful, inclusive transition following the resignation of former President Robert Mugabe.

They urged all stakeholders to implement immediate socio-economic measures to address urgent issues that affect ordinary Zimbabweans’ welfare and provide relief to their pain and suffering. Zimbabwe’s neighbours in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries must do all they can to support a successful political process that respects human rights and returns stability and growth to the country.

Kofi Annan, Chair of The Elders, said: “The period between now and the 2018 election is critical both for reconciliation and organised transition in Zimbabwe. All stakeholders should come together and engage in serious debate on a future vision and public policy.”

Graça Machel, co-founder of The Elders and a former freedom fighter in Mozambique, said: “The departure of Robert Mugabe offers a huge and rare chance for the people of Zimbabwe to chart a new course towards a peaceful, prosperous and inclusive future. This will only succeed if civil society activists, human rights defenders, independent media, religious organizations and academia are engaged on the type of transition to be chosen. Zimbabwe must look to the future, but also deliver justice to those who have suffered in the past.”

The Elders agree that upcoming elections in 2018 are a crucial test of Zimbabwe’s new leaders’ commitment to democracy and political reform. All state institutions, especially the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, must put transparency and integrity at the heart of their work. This is particularly important regarding the ongoing Biometric Voter Registration process, which must deliver a credible electoral roll to restore confidence to the voting system.

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