Mugabe 'may be brought in from the cold'
12 July 2012, 14:01
Cape Town - Britain and the EU are reportedly preparing to lift sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his closest henchmen in an effort to persuade the Zimbabwean leader to hold free and fair elections.
The Telegraph reported on Wednesday that a review of the measures that have banned the 88-year old Mugabe, his military allies and key officials, from travel to Europe and frozen suspect bank accounts - would conclude that sanctions should now be conditionally suspended.
The sanctions were imposed in 2002 after Mugabe oversaw a murderous campaign to drive out white farmers that pushed the economy into a disastrous slump.
According to the report, there is now "agreement to bring Zimbabwe back in from the cold but only if new conditions are met".
These include the publication of a new constitution, the adoption of human rights laws, a successful referendum and the conduct of free elections next year.
Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which has been in fragile power sharing pact with Mugabe since 2009, has said a new constitution will be issued next week, a development that has paved the way for a meeting in Brussels next month where the sanctions deal will be signed off.
The officials said that the EU would present a unified position designed to encourage reforms that ensure Mugabe and his Zanu-PF ruling party cannot repeat the 2008 stolen election.
As the former colonial power, Britain's objection to removing or suspending sanctions has ensured that there has only been a gradual easing of restrictions on Zanu-PF despite the establishment of the coalition government.
Diplomats said that the British position remained key.
"We know that British interests and priorities are important here and cannot be overridden," said one official. "We are working out a compromise that will see the EU use its influence positively while making the measures conditional. The Sword of Damocles must hang over Mugabe so that he cannot cling to power."