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EU lifts sanctions on Zimbabwe

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The European Union (EU) on Monday lifted development aid restrictions imposed on Zimbabwe a decade ago, but said a travel embargo on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle would be maintained until after Zimbabwe has successfully held a constitutional referendum.

EU Foreign Affairs ministers, who met in Brussels yesterday to review the Zimbabwe sanctions issue among others, said lifting sanctions on Mugabe was not one of the bloc’s immediate plans although a “peaceful and credible constitutional referendum
. . . would justify the lifting of the embargo.” The EU said they would start sending aid directly to Zimbabwe from 2014, a move that is set to “improve prosperity to the Zimbabwean people” currently under a transitional government.

EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe Aldo Dell’Ariccia told journalists in Harare that Zimbabwe would be treated according to Article 96 of the Conotou Agreement which spells out the conditions of engagement between the EU and Africa.

“What has changed is that we can now have a co-operation with Zimbabwe. It might not appear significant on short term because injection is not visible. Zimbabwe is becoming like other normal countries in Africa. It’s important and significant. Travel restrictions still remain in place as there was no agreement on that,” Dell’ Ariccia said.

“Not for the time being. All co-operation from now to 2013 is engaged in the current system. It’s for the future co-operation, that situation will change if there is generation of human rights abuses and the suspension will be suspended.”

He said the EU would also maintain an embargo on weapons until the political situation in the country has improved.

However, Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo described the EU resolutions as “hogwash and nonsense”.

“Why should they do it when all political parties in the inclusive government have agreed that sanctions should go? They have an agenda to weaken Zanu PF, but that will not work. We will always get help from the East,” Gumbo said.

Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai urged his Australian counterpart Julia Gillard that sanctions should be removed for now to allow the reform agenda to progress.

“Zimbabwe is ready to re-engage with the international community as a member of the international community, and not just as a pariah State,” Tsvangirai told Gillard, who likened him to veteran nationalist former South African president Nelson Mandela.

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