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European Parliamentarians Support EU Sanctions Against Zimbabwe


European foreign ministers voted Monday, to expand sanctions against the government of Zimbabwe; now the European Parliament has urged EU member-states to carry out the measures to force President Robert Mugabe to change his authoritarian policy. Teri Schultz reports from Brussels.

By 68 votes to one, the European Parliament approved Thursday a strong condemnation of the actions of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his ruling party.

European Commissioner Joaquin Almunia explains the new sanctions.

"They consist of a visa ban and freeze of assets of the leadership as well as an arms embargo," he said.

Officials say programs that go to help the Zimbabwean people directly will not be affected by the sanctions.

The European Union is traditionally the largest donor to Zimbabwe. But some members of parliament, like British MEP (Member of the European Parliament) Geoffrey Van Orden, are taking issue not just with the Mugabe government but also those of the EU member states, whom they accuse of being lax in enforcing sanctions already in order.

"There must be no let up on the pressure on the regime," he said. "Too often European governments on spurious grounds have failed enough to apply the EU's own travel ban and other restrictive measures."

The government of Belgium last month granted a visa - reportedly by mistake - to a Zimbabwean official that was already on the earlier travel ban list. Van Orden asserts there is one positive thing to come out the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe.

"Mugabe's latest brutality has at last provoked a response from neighboring African countries. This must be encouraged," Van Orden said.

As part of the effort to further isolate the regime, EU members of parliament insist no blacklisted Zimbabwean officials will be invited to the EU-Africa summit in Lisbon in December.

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