The European Union will not lift sanctions on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his allies until the country improves its human rights record and moves ahead on a power-sharing plan, an EU official said Sunday.
European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Karel de Gucht spoke to reporters at the conclusion of a two-day visit about Mugabe’s calls for an end to the sanctions. Under a power-sharing agreement last year aimed at ending months of turmoil and violence that followed the March 2008 presidential elections, Mugabe retained his office, and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai became prime minister. Called the Global Political Agreement, the accord spelled out a number of fundamental democratic reforms. But so far there has been no progress toward them, EU officials have said. The EU delegation met with Mugabe and Tsvangirai separately on Saturday. De Gucht also disputed Mugabe’s characterization of the restrictive sanctions placed on Zimbabwe as economic sanctions. The EU continues to send humanitarian aid to the impoverished country, de Gucht said.
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The sanctions, imposed for alleged human rights violations, electoral fraud and suppression of political opposition, include travel bans and the freezing of assets for Mugabe and his allies. The EU delegation’s visit was the first to Zimbabwe since the first sanctions were imposed in 2002. Another EU delegate, Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson, criticized recent efforts by Mugabe to get Tsvangirai to lobby the EU to lift the sanctions. The EU imposed the sanctions, and only they will decide whether to take them away, Carlsson told reporters Sunday. “We cannot fully engage if we [do] not see the full implementation of the Global Political Agreement,” Carlsson said.