Thursday, September 10, 2009

EU Sanctions And Zimbabwe; New Talks to Begin

ZimOnline - Zimbabwe's Independent News Agency

According to this article published in Zimonline, new talks are scheduled to occur between the head of the EU delegation and president Mugabe of Zimbabwe."The EU and other Western governments still maintain a travel ban and asset freeze on Mugabe and his ZANU PF inner circle in protest at controversial elections and alleged human rights abuses by his government."

It is Human Rights Watch African director Georgette Gagnon who has aspirations that the summit to be held between the EU, Mugabe, and the ZANU PF Inner circle breathe new life into normalizing relationships and possibly lifting the sanctions which are hurting an already desperate country like Zimbabwe. Unfortunately for Zimbabwe, they have had a horrendous human rights record since the EU first placed sanctions in 2002. Official US State Department Report
"The March 2002 presidential election was preceded by months of intensive violence and intimidation against MDC supporters, and more than 50 people, mostly opposition supporters, were killed. President Mugabe was declared the winner over challenger Morgan Tsvangirai by a 56% to 42% margin. Most international observers condemned the election as seriously flawed--the pre-election environment was neither free nor fair, and the election itself was marred by significant fraud and rigging--but regional opinions were mixed. Soon after the election, the MDC filed a petition challenging Mugabe's victory, citing flaws in electoral laws, electoral irregularities and pre-election violence. As of the end of 2004, the case had not yet been decided.

As a result of the 2002 election, the United States, the EU, and other European countries imposed travel restrictions against senior Zimbabwean officials and embargoed the sale of arms to Zimbabwe. The U.S. and the EU also froze the financial assets of selected ruling party officials. The Commonwealth suspended Zimbabwe from council meetings for one year after its election observer team found the election neither free nor fair. At the mid-term suspension review in March 2003, the three-country committee charged with deciding Zimbabwe's fate decided to continue the suspension until the next Commonwealth meeting in December 2003. At this meeting, despite vigorous campaigning by South Africa, Zimbabwe was not invited to attend the meeting and the Commonwealth decided to continue with the suspension. Immediately after this, Mugabe withdrew Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth."

It has not been good for Zimbabwe or the regime of Mugabe. Furthermore, regarding human rights, according to the US State Department: "Since 2000, the United States has taken a leading role in condemning the Zimbabwean Government's increasing assault on human rights and the rule of law, and has joined much of the world community in calling for the Government of Zimbabwe to embrace a peaceful democratic evolution. In 2002 and 2003, the United States imposed targeted measures on the Government of Zimbabwe, including financial and visa sanctions against selected individuals, a ban on transfers of defense items and services, and a suspension of non-humanitarian government-to-government assistance.

The US does not want to punish the "people" of Zimbabwe because of a questinable government."Despite strained political relations, the United States continues as a leading provider of humanitarian assistance to the people of Zimbabwe, providing more than $900 million in humanitarian assistance from 2002-2008, most of which was food aid."

Lets hope that Human Rights Watch encouragement of the European Union delegation, can encourage the European Union to "renegotiate" there terms with Mugabe to "straighten"up his human rights record for the sake of his people, to stop the suffering of further unnecessary human rights abuses. We will see what happens in the future.


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