Thursday, January 21, 2010

(STICKY) (NEWZIMBABWE) Sanctions lifted on MDC Advice: Miliband

COMMENT - Please read the extentive comments section at the bottom of this article (click on 'view all'). The article is no longer linked to on the NewZimbabwe front page.

Sanctions lifted on MDC Advice: Miliband
by Gilbert Nyambabvu
21/01/2010 00:00:00

BRITISH foreign secretary David Miliband says a decision on whether to lift sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe will be guided by advice from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party.

Speaking in the House of Commons of Tuesday Miliband said the UK government welcomed the recent agreement by the principals of the inclusive government to establish key commissions and would continue to press for progress in the implementation of the Global Political Agreement.

Asked by North-West Norfolk member of parliament, Henry Bellingahm whether he agreed that sanctions should not be lifted until the arrest of Roy Bennet and concerns about human rights were addressed Miliband said the UK would be guided by advice from the MDC.

“I agree that numerous aspects of the situation in Zimbabwe are of deep concern. It is right to say that, over the past year, the economic situation has changed in a quite fundamental way, although it is not quite right to refer to the detention of Roy Bennett as a continued threat to him through a legal case.

“In respect of sanctions, we have made it clear that they can be lifted only in a calibrated way, as progress is made. I do not think that it is right to say that the choice is between lifting all sanctions and lifting none at all.

“We have to calibrate our response to the progress on the ground, and, above all, to be guided by what the MDC says to us about the conditions under which it is working and leading the country,” Miliband said.

The sanctions remain one of the major issues still dividing the country’s inclusive government with President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF accusing the MDC of not doing enough to have them lifted.

The MDC has always maintained it has no influence over the issue insisting removal of the sanctions is a matter for the European Union and the respective European governments.

However the party has recently indicated it would campaign for the removal of sanctions targeted at state-owned companies saying these were undermining the country’s economic recovery.

Meanwhile, Miliband said the sanctions had helped send a “strong message”.

“A range of EU sanctions is in place. Some of them refer to individuals, others to so-called parastatal organisations. Different sanctions have been brought in at different points, and different sanctions are the responsibility of different ministries in the Zimbabwean system.

“I believe that EU sanctions have helped to send a strong message, and that they have had a practical effect without hurting the Zimbabwean people, which would have been a sanction too far,” he said.

The British foreign secretary also defended the role of SADC facilitator, South Africa President Jacob Zuma after some parliamentarians suggested he was leaning on the MDC to compromise in the on-going dialogue with Zanu PF.

“President Zuma is playing a careful hand, and he is playing it rather skilfully. The position of the South Africans has certainly been to urge adherence to the global political agreement, which requires compromise on all sides, and I do not think that they have been less than even-handed in the way in which they have done that,” Miliband said.

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