The European Union has reportedly started consultations on the removal of the remaining targeted sanctions on President Robert Mugabe, his wife Grace and one company, as part of its annual review process.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, some diplomatic sources say the 28-member bloc is divided on the way forward, especially in light of the African Union’s recent election of President Mugabe as its new chair.
The London Times of Britain quotes the country’s representative to the EU Parliament, Cathreine Bearder, saying the AU’s decision is not a constructive step for AU-EU relations.
Catherine Ashton, the EU chief, is expected to announce group’s decision on February 20th.
The EU, which slapped sanctions on Mr. Mugabe and some members of his inner circle over allegations of human rights violations and vote rigging in 2002, together with the United States, has cited the restoration of democracy and respect for human rights as pre-requisites for the removal of the remaining targeted sanctions.
President Mugabe has repeatedly criticized the sanctions, saying they were put in place in opposition to his forceful removal of white farmers from the land, to give to blacks.
While many of the original names on the targeted sanctions list have been removed, still remaining are President Mugabe, his wife Grace, and The Zimbabwe Defence Industries.
Despite the remaining sanctions however, the EU will this month resume direct cooperation with the Zimbabwean government.
The EU’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Philipe van Damme told VOA a decision will be reached by the block over the sanctions in the next two weeks.
“We have to look at the initial decision of 2002 and the situation will be assessed on that basis but again, I’m not here to speak on behalf of the council. Let’s wait for the decision of the council,” he said.
Responding, Zanu PF spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo said his party and government expects an unconditional lifting of the sanctions because he says they are illegal.
“Sanctions have hurt our economy and you know it,” said Khaya-Moyo. “We want them to be removed unconditionally, that’s all.”