On June 26, 2008, Mr. Mugabe´s official newspaper, The Herald, tried to twist the truth when they claimed that I, as the head of the EU election observation mission during the 2002 presidential elections, was expelled from Zimbabwe because I had violated my “visa condition”.
The truth is that the Zimbabwe government thought that I had a tourist visa, and therefore stated that as a tourist I could not be in the country on a “political” mission. I had however a six-month visa for multiple entries, issued by the Zimbabwean embassy in Washington.Therefore, after having tried in vain to force me to sign a document that I was a tourist, they had to confiscate my passport, then stamp in a new visa, dated the day before! Thus I was in the country illegally!
One reason for the harsh action taken against the EU mission was probably that we had, in MR. Mugabe´s view, been too efficient, in the 2002 parliamentary elections, when I also led the EU observation. In 2002, as this year, the President ´s own future was at stake and therefore any method to stay in power was used.
In the article Mugabe beyond the pale: Not the way to govern Zimbabwe , written just after my expulsion in 2002, the reader can see that the same methods that Mr Mugabe ´s thugs are using now against their fellow countrymen were in fact also practised in 2002. In that year, the EU foreign ministers, basing their action on the information provided by their ambassadors in Zimbabwe, other international observers and the mission ´s fact-finding during the week it was able to work, declared the elections not to be fair and free and Mr. Mugabe´s government in violation of the Cotonou agreement. The EU thus imposed targeted sanctions on the President and some of his collaborators.