Wednesday, September 25, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Lift Zim sanctions, AU organ tells West
27/08/2013 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

AN organ of the African Union has backed calls by the regional SADC grouping for Western sanctions against Zimbabwe to be removed following last month's elections which were won by President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party.

The AU’s 15-member Peace and Security Council (PSC) called for the “immediate and unconditional” removal of the sanctions at its meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Tuesday.

“In the case of Zimbabwe, council further called for the immediate and unconditional lifting of all sanctions imposed on the country and stressed that the lifting of the sanctions will contribute to socio-economic recovery for the benefit of the long-suffering population of the country,’’ the PSC said in a statement.

President Mugabe won the 31 July polls by a landslide of 61% against Tsvangirai's 34%. Mugabe’s Zanu PF party also claimed a huge Parliamentary majority in the elections which were rejected as fraudulent by Tsvangirai and his MDC-T party.

The AU and SADC have since endorsed the elections but Western countries, barred by Mugabe from observing the vote, have said the elections were not credible adding the sanctions would remain in place.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who attended the Addis Ababa meeting claimed the United States and Britain had tried to get the PSC to condemn the election outcome.

“The information which was coming out of Addis Ababa is that members of the PSC had come under tremendous pressure not to endorse Zimbabwe’s elections and the fact that they have, they need to be highly commended for standing up to the truth of what they saw during the elections,” Chinamasa told the Herald newspaper.

“The British and the US have been exerting pressure on anyone they assumed could have a decision on Zimbabwe’s elections.

“The decision by the PSC showed that African institutions are resisting external interference in their quest to deliver African solutions to African problems.”

The sanctions were imposed about a decade ago after allegations of election fraud and human rights abuses which are rejected by Mugabe who, in turn, blames the measures for Zimbabwe’s economic problems although critics insist that his policies helped worsen the situation.

On Sunday, the veteran leader threatened to take reciprocal action targeting Western companies operating in Zimbabwe if the sanctions are not removed.

"They should not continue to harass us, the British and Americans," he told supporters at the funeral of retired Air Commodore Mike Karakadzai.

"We have not done anything to their companies here, the British have several companies in this country, and we have not imposed any controls, any sanctions against them, but time will come when we will say well, tit-for-tat, you hit me I hit you."

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