US rejects call to lift Zimbabwe sanctions

The 15-nation Southern African Development Community called on Western nations to lift sanctions on Mugabe government.

    Robert Mugabe could be sworn in as president as early as this week [Reuters]
    Robert Mugabe could be sworn in as president as early as this week [Reuters]

    The United States believes Zimbabwe's recent election was flawed and it doesn't plan to loosen sanctions against President Robert Mugabe's government, the State Department said on Monday, despite a call to scrap the sanctions from Southern African leaders.

    Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, is set to be sworn in as president as early as this week, extending his 33-year rule of the country after winning the July 31 election.

    A change in US sanctions policy will occur only in the context of credible, transparent and peaceful reforms that reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people

    Jen Psake, US State Dept. Spokeswoman

    The 15-nation Southern African Development Community, which helped broker a power-sharing deal after disputed elections in Zimbabwe in 2008, backed Mugabe's re-election on Sunday.

    Western nations, prevented by Mugabe from sending observers, have condemned the vote for irregularities in voters' lists and in election procedures. Independent local observers also complained of irregularities.

    "The United States stands by our assessment that these elections, while relatively peaceful, did not represent a credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people due to serious flaws throughout the electoral process," said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

    "We have made clear to the government of Zimbabwe and the region that a change in US sanctions policy will occur only in the context of credible, transparent and peaceful reforms that reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people."

    The US, Britain, and the European Union have imposed sanctions against Mugabe and senior leaders of his ZANU-PF party for human rights violations and suspected rigging of previous elections

    The opposition Movement for Democratic Change, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, on Friday dropped its court challenge to Mugabe's landslide win, saying it doubted it would get a fair hearing. 

    The United States imposed sanctions on Mugabe in 2003. The sanctions, which ban more than 250 Zimbabwean individuals and companies from doing business with the United States, were extended in 2009.

    Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since it gained independence from Britain in 1980 and is Africa's oldest leader.

    Psaki said it was "feasible" the US could review sanctions toward Zimbabwe if conditions in the country improved, but for now they would remain.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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