Wednesday, September 11, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) EU sanctions to remain suspended
21/08/2013 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

A MEETING of European Union (EU) foreign ministers on Wednesday agreed that sanctions against Zimbabwe would remain suspended for another six months despite an appeal by SADC leaders for the measures to me removed.

In a statement after the meeting which was held in Brussels, the EU foreign affairs council said suspension of the sanctions would remain in force until February 20, 2014, adopting the recommendations of an earlier council meeting.

“The (suspension of the sanctions) is hereby extended until 20 February 2014. The appropriate measures shall be kept under constant review and shall be applied again if the situation in Zimbabwe is to seriously deteriorate,” the council said after its August 9 meeting.

The EU suspended its sanctions in the lead-up to the July 31 vote to reward the coalition government for reforms that included a new constitution as well as encourage the country to hold free and fair elections.

After they were barred from observing the elections for refusing to completely lift the sanctions, Western countries said they would be guided by the verdict of observers from the African Union and the regional SADC grouping.

Both organisations have since endorsed President Robert Mugabe’s landslide victory with regional leaders urging the West to lift the sanctions following a recent meeting in Malawi.

However, both the United States and the EU have backed allegations by the defeated MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai that the vote was not credible.

Said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton: “The EU is worried by the allegations of irregularities and information indicating voter registration may have been incomplete as well as by the...lack of transparency.”

She added that the EU "will continue to follow how the situation evolves and will work closely with its international partners in the coming weeks."

Washington has completely ruled out lifting its own sanctions, declaring that the election outcome “did not represent a credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people due to serious flaws throughout the electoral process”.

“A change in U.S. sanctions policy will occur only in the context of credible, transparent and peaceful reforms that reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people," a spokesperson for the US State Department said this week.

The sanctions – blamed by Mugabe for the country’s economic problems - were imposed about a decade ago over allegations of vote fraud and human rights failings.

The veteran leader rejects the allegations and, instead, claims former colonial power Britain persuaded its allies to punish him for land reforms which saw farmland that was in the hands of whites redistributed to landless black Zimbabweans.

A spokesperson for the UK foreign and commonwealth office this week told that the sanctions were a decision of all EU member states.

“The EU’s Restrictive Measures are a decision for all member states, and not just the UK,” the official said when asked whether London recommend the removal of the sanctions after regional leaders as well as Zimbabwe’s top court ruled that the vote was free and fair.

“The UK alongside all EU Member States reviews the Restrictive Measures regularly to ensure that they continue to be legally robust, targeted and relevant to the situation on the ground. Our approach is grounded in the legal requirements of the Measures and guided by our aim of using the measures to best support the reform process in Zimbabwe.”

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