President Bush is expanding U.S. sanctions on Zimbabwe.  The move is designed to send a message to those standing in the way of democratic reform.

In March 2003, President Bush froze the assets of 77 people responsible for hindering democratic reforms in Zimbabwe, including President Robert Mugabe.  Now, he has added another 138 names to the list, along with 33 entities.

Mr. Bush put the expanded sanctions in place by an executive order, which he signed during a visit to his Texas ranch.   In a letter to congressional leaders, he says the expanded sanctions will affect key government and party officials in Zimbabwe and members of their families.

The letter says that since the first sanctions were imposed, the situation in Zimbabwe has only gotten worse.  President Bush says the government continues to suppress opposition groups and civil society, undermine the independent media, ignore decisions by its courts, and refuse to enter into meaningful political negotiations.  He says parliamentary elections earlier this year were neither free nor fair, and adds the recent demolitions of low income housing and informal markets shows the need for additional sanctions.

As part of his executive order, President Bush is also directing the secretary of the treasury to keep a close watch on the situation and add more names, as warranted, to those already targeted by sanctions.

In a written statement, Deputy White House Press Secretary Dana Perino stresses these sanctions are not aimed at the people of Zimbabwe, but rather those responsible for their plight.  She says the policies of the Mugabe government have devastated Zimbabwe, and warns the only way to prevent further sanctions is for all political factions to embrace democratic reforms and engage in a meaningful political dialogue to end the impasse caused by a series of flawed elections.