UK: World ready to help Zim if democracy respected

LONDON – British Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Saturday said the world stood ready to assist in Zimbabwe's reconstruction, but only if a new government reflecting the will of its people is formed.

Commenting on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s call for a lifting of what he called "illegally imposed sanctions" on his regime, Miliband said: "The world stands ready to help with the reconstruction of Zimbabwe" in the wake of the September 15 power-sharing deal in Harare.

But the British top diplomat said this would happen only if "the democratic process is respected, the new government is formed reflecting that process and action on the ground reflects a new approach".

He said financial and travel sanctions imposed by European countries and the United States targeted only "individual members of the [Harare] regime."

"The parlous state of the Zimbabwean economy is not the result of the international community. It is the result of mismanagement by the Mugabe regime," Miliband told reporters after attending a ministerial session on Burma hosted by United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon at UN headquarters.

He advised Mugabe to return home soon and "follow through on the words he has given and the signature he has made on the deal with [ Morgan] Tsvangirai".

"It is very important that a clear message goes out that there are definite expectations of a significant transfer of power reflecting the results of the parliamentary and presidential elections, which were won by the [Tsvangirai-led] opposition," Miliband said.

‘Double standards’
In the wake of the power-sharing accord he signed with Tsvangirai, Mugabe told the UN General Assembly on Thursday: "I would like to appeal to those members of the international community who have imposed illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe to lift them so that my country can focus, undisturbed, on his economic turnaround.

"We deplore the vindictive approach which often is characterised by self-righteous finger-pointing, double standards and the imposition of unilateral sanctions to coerce smaller and weaker countries to bow to the wishes of militarily stronger states," Mugabe added.

It took months of tough negotiations for Mugabe and prime minister-designate Tsvangirai to hammer out a peace deal.

The deal was clinched after the world community slammed Mugabe’s re-election last June as unfair. Tsvangirai pushed Mugabe into second place in the March first round of the presidential vote, but he pulled out of the June run-off vote after a wave of deadly attacks against his supporters.

Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party, Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and a smaller MDC opposition faction have yet to agree on who will hold certain key ministries in the new Cabinet.

The United States and the European Union have slapped targeted sanctions, including travel and financial restrictions, on the Harare regime, arguing that Mugabe has crushed human rights and ruined his country’s once-prosperous economy.

Zimbabwe’s economy has been in decline for a decade with sky-high unemployment, devastating food shortages, crippling poverty and the world’s highest rate of inflation. — AFP