Sanctions: US insists on full democratic process

While the European Union is discussing the lifting of illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, the United States of America maintains that the embargo can only be lifted if the country goes through a referendum and holds credible elections.\r\n

Outgoing US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Charles Ray made the remarks after paying a courtesy call on Vice President Joice Mujuru at her Munhumutapa offices in Harare, to bid her farewell.

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Ambassador Ray says he does not subscribe to measures that are not flexible, adding that countries must desist from being obsessed with the negatives but must focus on the positives to move forward. 

He however maintained that unless Zimbabwe goes through a referendum and holds elections, the embargo will remain.

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“Once this country has completed its constitutional referendum process and holds a credible election reflective of the views of the people, then there is no other justification for keeping the sanctions,” said Ambassador Ray.

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The British government has backed EU moves to lift more sanctions on Zimbabwe to encourage free and fair elections, a foreign office minister has told the BBC.

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Henry Bellingham said the “conditional” suspension would be a “big step”.

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And it would depend on “a really credible referendum” on reforms being held before elections next year.

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EU ministers meet on Monday to decide whether to lift bans on direct cash aid for the Zimbabwe government, as well as visa and asset curbs.

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Mr Bellingham said the UK was keen to show support for moves by the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) to ease pressure on Zimbabwe.

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He said: “If we get agreement in the EU, it will be a conditional suspension, not of all the measures but a very large number of them, sending a very strong signal that because SADC has made positive moves in terms of Zimbabwe then the EU will respond.”

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The EU has already lifted some of its sanctions against top Zimbabwean officials, to support what it said was the power-sharing government’s “significant progress” on tackling the country’s economic crisis.

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President Robert Mugabe and more than 100 key members of his inner circle remain the subject of restrictions, which include asset freezes and bans on travelling to European countries.

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The Foreign Office has said the restrictions on Mr Mugabe must remain in place. 

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Earlier on, the Nigerian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Ambassador Mamman Nuhu also paid a familiarisation courtesy call on Vice President Mujuru. 

Ambassador Nuhu, who has been in the country since August last year, said he briefed the Mujuru on political disturbances being perpetuated by the hard-line Islamist group, the Boko Haram in Nigeria.

The third envoy to pay a courtesy call was the new Zambian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mrs Ndiyoi Mutiti.

Ambassador Mutiti said the two discussed various bilateral issues and also the forthcoming UNWTO conference which Zimbabwe is co-hosting with Zambia in 2013.

Zambia and Zimbabwe have the potential to assist each other to develop tourism and strengthen bilateral trade.

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Meanwhile, Vice President Mujuru also met the visiting Russian delegation, which expressed interest in enhancing economic cooperation with Zimbabwe in areas of mining, power generation, energy and infrastructure development.

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Mujuru said despite strong bilateral ties, the two countries are not fully exploiting economic partnerships, adding that Zimbabwe is currently exporting a large number of raw materials due to lack of value addition.  

Speaking through an interpreter, Russian business delegation leader, who is also the Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Mr Georgy Kalamanov said his country has already identified various projects and has crafted a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA)  which is now awaiting signing.

Russia already has mining interests in the country and the Russian economy is the world’s 9th largest by nominal GDP.

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