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EU Formally Renews Sanctions Against Zimbabwe

EU officials say the 15-nation bloc has formally renewed its sanctions against Zimbabwe in an effort to increase pressure on the government of President Robert Mugabe improve human rights conditions. EU justice ministers are adding another year to sanctions that were first imposed in 2002.

The ministers decided unanimously to keep in place measures that ban nearly 100 Zimbabwean government officials from entering the European Union and freeze any assets they might hold in Europe. The ministers also agreed to extend an embargo on shipments of military supplies to the beleaguered African country.

When the sanctions were first imposed, the European Union cited what it called a breakdown of law and order, human rights abuses and ballot fraud in Zimbabwe, after President Mugabe won a controversial re-election victory.

Zimbabwe has called the sanctions the result of a campaign by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. It says Mr. Blair is angry at President Mugabe for redistributing white-owned farmland to, "landless black peasants."

EU officials say the justice ministers concluded that Mr. Mugabe has ignored EU calls to end illegal occupation of land, hold free elections, and guarantee freedom of the press and an independent judiciary.