Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai calls for end to sanctions

HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday made his first call for an end to international sanctions against the country.

Tsvangirai, who joined President Robert Mugabe in a unity government last month, said in his maiden speech to parliament that Zimbabwean efforts to solve the country’s political crisis through power-sharing needed to be recognised.

"I therefore urge the international community to recognise our efforts and note the progress that we make in this regard and to match our progress by moving towards the removal of restrictive measures," Tsvangirai said.

The U.S. and European Union have put in place targeted sanctions against certain individuals close to Mugabe and some Zimbabwean companies.

Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe, in the grips of a cholera epidemic which has killed nearly 4,000 people and infected almost 87,000, needed to re-establish relations with international donors.

"What we need is to fully re-establish relations with the international donor community, which will be respectful of our sovereignty, not a relationship essentially based on humanitarian assistance."

He warned Zimbabwean government officials that any future human rights abuses could lead to arrest and prosecution and said the days of police violently breaking up demonstrations and needlessly arresting people had to come to an end.

"In future such activities could bring the threat of prosecution not only on those arresting or interfering with such activities but also on those that ordered such interference and arrests," Tsvangirai said.