A senior ally of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has accused the European Union of undermining the power sharing agreement with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. The charge follows the first visit to Zimbabwe by senior EU officials since the European body imposed targeted sanctions seven years ago.
A high-ranking official in President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, was quoted Monday in the government-owned Herald newspaper as saying the European Union was undermining the one-year-old agreement that led to Zimbabwe's unity government.
Chinamasa was also quoted as saying that the EU appeared biased and had accepted without question the opinions of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change.
An EU delegation concluded a two-day visit to Zimbabwe Sunday during which they met separately with both leaders. It was the first such visit since the EU imposed targeted sanctions following controversial elections in 2002.
A member of the delegation, Swedish Development Minister Gunilla Carlsson, described the talks as open and frank. She said the EU supports the unity government but she also called for speedier implementation of democratic reforms.
"And one of the things that this government is expected to do, the sooner the better, is to make a new constitution, a constitution that has broad support within Zimbabwe so that they can go to proper and fair elections," Carlsson said.
Mr. Tsvangirai accuses ZANU-PF officials of preventing full implementation of the Agreement and of continuing a campaign of violence and arrests of MDC members.
Mr. Mugabe accuses the prime minister of failing to obtain the removal of the sanctions which he says are hurting the Zimbabwean economy and people.
Officials say the Zimbabwean president reiterated this complaint to the EU delegation.
But EU Aid Commissioner Karel de Gucht disagreed, noting that the measures were primarily a ban on travel and a freeze of assets in Europe of senior Zimbabwean officials involved in human rights abuses.
"We made it very clear that these sanctions, as he is calling them, have no impact on the common people, that these are restrictive measures toward specific persons and specific companies and that this is a matter that has to be resolved in the process of the political dialogue and this, now, is certainly not the moment to lift them," de Gucht said.
He said relations with Zimbabwe had entered a new phase but added that they will not be normalized until the Global Political Agreement is fully implemented.
Mr. Tsvangirai expressed support for constitutional reform Sunday in the southern city of Bulawayo at a rally marking the tenth anniversary of his party.
"We need to make sure that the constitutional reform process is back on line, back on rail, and moving in terms of the timeline that we have set for ourselves," Tsvangirai said.
But the former opposition leader said the MDC would no longer tolerate violations of the power sharing accord and what he termed "violations of the law".