Obasanjo arrives in SA to observe elections

Monday, April 20, 2009

Durban - Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has arrived in South Africa, ahead of Wednesday's elections.

Mr Obasanjo is part of the 300 international observers who will be overseeing the upcoming presidential and legislative elections to ensure a free and fair poll.

The former President was welcomed by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sibusiso Ndebele who said South Africa was committed to free and fair elections.

"We are, therefore, pleased to have international election observers in our country to assess the conduct of our election process on the basis of international standards. These elections are not only important for South Africa, but for the entire African continent.

"Elections in Africa are now the norm and we want to learn from each other. Elections are the most important part of democracy and, therefore, this practice must be continued," he said.

Mr Obasanjo is an experienced observer and has contributed immensely to the well-being of Africa.

"Because of his vast experience and stature, the different political parties will listen to him. We are very glad to have him in South Africa as part of the Election Observer Mission. We would like to welcome him to our beautiful province of KwaZulu-Natal and we trust that he will enjoy his stay with us," the Premier said.

KwaZulu-Natal remains a major cause of concern especially in hotspots such as Nongoma, Ntabamhlophe, Ulundi, KwaDukuza, Greytown and Msinga. A large number of anti-riot police and soldiers have been deployed in the province to unmask the perpetrators of political violence.

National intervention units have already successfully arrested 60 suspects in election related incidents.

Government's Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster (JCPS) on Friday assured South Africans that political flair ups would not be tolerated.

"We remain hopeful that besides the high number of recorded incidents, this province is under strict control and will deliver a peaceful and fair election.

"The leadership of the cluster will remain in the province even on Election Day to ensure maximum monitoring and speedy decision making," Minister Mthethwa said.

Meanwhile, Limpopo remains a further concern, where certain residents of Moutse demanded to be incorporated into the Mpumalanga province.

According to the JCPS, the Northern Cape and Free State provinces remain the most peaceful and less problematic.

The North West province is relatively calm and peaceful and the JCPS do not anticipate any major problem on Election Day.

According to the cluster, Mpumalanga is stable, peaceful and has no recorded element of threat.

The Eastern Cape is also calm, however, a contingency plan and technical readiness are in place for a smooth election. A police helicopter will also be deployed to the province as well as other equipment in the Butterworth area.