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London Rebuffs President Zuma's Request for Lifting of Zimbabwe Sanctions

President Zuma asked Mr. Brown in bilateral talks to press Europe to loosen travel and financial restrictions aimed at President Robert Mugabe and members of his former ruling ZANU-PF administration

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Thursday rebuffed a request by visiting South African President Jacob Zuma that the United Kingdom seek the lifting of European Union sanctions on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle, saying London wanted to see further progress on human rights and democracy in Harare.

President Zuma had officially asked Mr. Brown in the course of bilateral talks at the British prime minister's Downing Street offices to loosen travel and financial restrictions on Mr. Mugabe and members of his former ruling ZANU-PF administration, saying the measures were hampering efforts by Zimbabwe's unity government to rebuild the economy.

Mr. Zuma also addressed the British Parliament, telling members that “there is no lasting solution in Zimbabwe that excludes ZANU-PF, just as there is no solution that excludes the MDC.” President Zuma added that the international community should do what it can to ensure that conditions are put in place for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

But Mr. Brown told reporters during a joint news conference with Mr. Zuma that London wants to see further reforms implemented by the unity government in Harare before it will be ready to review sanctions. Mr. Brown contended that the restrictive measures in place only affect ZANU-PF officials and not Zimbabweans in general.

Responding, Mr. Zuma warned that if sanctions are not removed, some elements – presumably ZANU-PF hardliners, though he was not specific – may try to manipulate the sanctions issue to scuttle the power-sharing arrangement.

The European Union last month extended by another year its sanctions on Mr. Mugabe and his associates citing lack of progress in the implementation of the Global Political Agreement signed in September 2008 by President Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change, giving rise to the inclusive government.

U.S. President Barack Obama renewed U.S. sanctions this week for one year, demanding more democratic reforms in the Southern African country.

Programs manager Pedzisai Ruhanya of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that ZANU-PF should reform if it wants the sanctions targeting its leaders revoked.