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African Union Again Urges Lifting of Zimbabwe Sanctions; Harare Parliament in Row

Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengengwi said AU summit last week unanimously called for the sanctions to be lifted, and that Chairman Jean Ping would follow up and report to the regional grouping at its next summit in July

The African Union has weighed in again on the vexed question of Western targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and other officials of his former ZANU-PF administration, Harare sources said.

Zimbabwean Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengengwi said the AU in its recent summit unanimously called for the sanctions to be lifted. AU Chairman Jean Ping was to follow up and report at the next summit in July.

Meanwhile, World Bank President Robert Zoellick, a former U.S. trade representative, said his institution was concerned about delays by the power-sharing Harare government in the resolution of outstanding issues, especially the leadership of the Reserve Bank, in the hands of governor Gideon Gono, re-appointed by Mr. Mugabe in late 2008 without consulting his future governing partners, the Movement for Democratic Change.

Zoellick told journalists in Harare over a video link from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that the World Bank was working with other donors to look for ways to help Zimbabwe. But he said support for Zimbabwe depended to a great extent on how donors perceive the Harare administration.

Insiders say the sanctions issue has become the biggest threat to the inclusive government. Negotiations among the governing parties are to resume Monday but the current deadlock is not expected to be ended as ZANU-PF has demanded an end to sanctions as a condition for further progress.

ZANU-PF Chief House Whip Joram Gumbo told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that his party welcomes the AU statement and urges the MDC to step up its efforts to convince the West to lift sanctions

But Oxford University based political analyst Phillan Zamchiya said ZANU-PF has misled the African Union on the question of sanctions.

The controversy spilled over into Parliament on Wednesday forcing Deputy Speaker Nomalanga Khumalo to cut off debate in the House amid turmoil after a ZANU-PF legislator offered a motion calling on Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to urge Europe and the United States to lift sanctions.

VOA Studio 7 correspondent Irwin Chifera reported from Harare.