SW Radio Africa (London)

25 July 2012

Zimbabwe: U.S. Says Targeted Sanctions to Remain

The US has insisted it will not follow in Europe's footsteps by easing targeted sanctions against the Robert Mugabe regime, warning that there are signs of future violence erupting in the country.

This warning was voiced by the outgoing US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Charles Ray, who said Tuesday that Washington would only lift sanctions against Mugabe and his inner circle if elections are held peacefully.

"There are disturbing signs of potential violence," Charles Ray said in a farewell address to journalists on completing his tour of duty in Harare.

He added: "There have been disturbing reports recently that could be problematic in an election environment."

His comments came a day after a meeting of the European Union (EU) resolved to ease the restrictive measures against most of the individuals and companies on its Zimbabwe list, while also committing to lifting the decade long ban on direct government aid. This move is conditional on a "peaceful and credible" constitutional referendum expected later this year.

Ray said the US would only lift its own sanctions on Mugabe when they are satisfied with the electoral conditions in Zimbabwe.

"Sanctions were a response to a violent electoral process," he said. "A credible electoral process free of violence and intimidation would make our current policies irrelevant. The ball is entirely in this court."

The EU's decision has been greeted with mixed reaction, with some saying it a necessary 'carrot' that needs to be offered to encourage reform and a credible referendum.

Critics meanwhile have said the decision will do nothing of the sort, and is only an attempt to appease Mugabe's party. But the harshest criticism has been for the country's Prime Minister, who has recently been on a 'sanctions' tour, urging foreign government to lift the measures against his government partner.

Tsvangirai has been in Australia and New Zealand in the past week urging the governments there to suspend its targeted measures. Political analyst Clifford Mashiri told SW Radio Africa that Tsvangirai "is doing Mugabe's bidding."

"He is pleading for Mugabe despite his party members still being victimised, despite the partisan actions of the police. It is not good for the MDC-T leader to behave in this manner when his party is still facing the violent actions of Mugabe's party," Mashiri said.

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