News / Africa

EU Suspends Most Zimbabwe Sanctions

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe attends Pope Francis' inaugural Mass,  the Vatican, March 19, 2013.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe attends Pope Francis' inaugural Mass, the Vatican, March 19, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— The European Union suspended most sanctions on Zimbabwe on Monday after voters there approved a new constitution paving the way for an election to decide whether President Robert Mugabe extends his 33-year rule.
 
The move is the most far-reaching step so far in the European Union's strategy of easing sanctions to encourage political and economic reform in Zimbabwe.
 
The southern African country has been governed by an uneasy coalition since Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai were forced into a power-sharing deal after disputed 2008 elections.
 
"The EU ... has today agreed to immediately suspend the application of measures against 81 individuals and eight entities," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement.
 
Ten people, including Mugabe, and two companies, including state-run diamond mining company the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), remain on the sanctions list, restricted by asset freezes and travel bans, an EU source said.
 
A number of "key decision makers" would remain under EU sanctions until peaceful, transparent and credible elections had been held, Ashton said.
 
Zimbabwe is expected to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in the second half of the year in what will be seen as a showdown between political rivals Mugabe and Tsvangirai.
 
The European Union first imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2002, in protest of human rights abuses and violations of democracy under Mugabe's rule.
 
Rugare Gumbo, a spokesman for Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, said it was "completely unacceptable" for the European Union to partially lift sanctions.
 
"We want them unconditionally removed," he said in Harare. "There is no reason why some should be removed from the list while some remain. There is nothing we have done to deserve these illegal sanctions anyway."
 
Intimidation

In a referendum on March 16, nearly 95 percent of voters approved a new constitution that curbs presidential powers and paves the way for elections.
 
Ashton said the "peaceful, successful and credible" vote was a significant step towards implementing the 2008 power-sharing agreement.
 
She added, however, that the European Union was concerned about recent reports of intimidation and harassment of political activists.
 
Monitoring by domestic and international observers would boost the elections' credibility, Ashton said, explaining that the European Union was ready to provide any support for the elections that it was asked for.
 
At a meeting in Brussels last month, EU foreign ministers removed 21 people and one company from the sanctions list.
 
They also hammered out a compromise under which ZMDC, which operates five diamond mines in Zimbabwe's rich Marange fields, would be freed from sanctions within a month of peaceful and credible elections being held in Zimbabwe.
 
The new constitution sets a maximum of two five-year terms for the president. However, the limit will not apply retroactively, so Mugabe, 89, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, could, if elected, continue to rule for the next decade.
 
Although the referendum passed without incident and turnout was high, Mugabe detractors seized on the arrest of four staff members from Tsvangirai's party and leading human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa as evidence that ZANU-PF is bent on intimidating rivals before the elections.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid