Zimbabwe: 81 struck off EU sanctions
26 March 2013, 18:05
Brussels - The EU has suspended an assets freeze and visa
ban against most Zimbabwean firms and people after a "credible" March
referendum, but President Robert Mugabe and a few others remain blacklisted.
The United States said it would wait and see before deciding
whether or not to follow suit.
The European Union announced on Monday it was immediately
suspending measures "against 81 individuals and eight entities",
commending the people of Zimbabwe for "a peaceful, successful and credible
vote" to approve a new constitution on March 16.
EU officials withheld immediate details on names but a
European diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed to AFP that
Mugabe was among 10 Zimbabweans still targeted by the decade-old European Union
The sanctions were originally imposed in 2002 on the grounds
of political violence, human rights abuses and the failure to hold free and
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party immediately dismissed the partial
lifting of sanctions as a "non-event".
"We are looking for the total and unequivocal lifting
of sanctions which were not justified in the first place," party spokesperson
Rugare Gumbo told AFP.
Key condition of reforms
Monday's removal of dozens of names from the blacklist was
the largest since a policy U-turn last July, when on Britain's suggestion the
27-nation bloc pledged to lift sanctions should the country hold a
"credible" vote on a new constitution.
In February, 21 Zimbabweans out of 112 on the EU blacklist,
and one of 11 firms, were removed after Harare announced a firm intention to
hold the vote.
In the referendum, almost 95% of Zimbabweans backed a new
constitution that would trim Mugabe's powers and pave the way for new
elections, expected later this year.
Mugabe and his long-time rival Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai both backed the draft, which limits presidents to two five-year
terms in office, boosts parliament's powers but abolishes the post of prime
Drafting a new constitution was a key condition of reforms
agreed in 2008 when Mugabe was forced into a power-sharing deal with Tsvangirai
after a violence-marred presidential election.
The EU said it welcomed calls for national reconciliation
and peaceful political activity by Zimbabwe's leaders, including the president
and premier, but remained concerned by reports of political intimidation and
"The EU urges all leaders to ensure that their
commitment to peace and transparency are respected by all groups and services
of the security authorities," it said in Monday's statement.
"A number of key decision makers will remain subject to
restrictive measures until peaceful, transparent and credible elections have
The United States also congratulated Zimbabwe for the
conduct of its referendum.
But State Department spokesperson Patrick Ventrell said
Washington was still waiting to see if it can "serve as a precedent for
upcoming presidential elections".
"So we're going to continue to review our sanctions,
but we want to get the democratic process back on track in Zimbabwe."
The EU's suspension of sanctions - aimed at promoting reform
in the southern African nation - comes after it lifted sanctions on Myanmar.
The European diplomat told AFP that the Zimbabwe Mining
Development Corporation, remained on the blacklist. NGOs and diplomats claim
the state-owned ZMDC, a major diamond and gold mining company which operates
five diamond mines in the Marange fields, is channelling money to Zanu-PF.
The EU urged "effective observation" of the
upcoming general election and welcomed a commitment by regional grouping SADC
to send "a robust observation mission".