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US Adds Zimbabwe AG to Sanctions List; Move Seen Increasing Tensions

The US says Attorney General Johannes Tomana's targeting of political opponents threatens the rule of law, damages government integrity and runs counter to the desire of ordinary Zimbabweans for democracy

he US Treasury has imposed targeted sanctions on Zimbabwean Attorney General Johannes Tomana just days after President Robert Mugabe threatened to expropriate American and British corporate assets if Western sanctions are not ended.

US Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control Director Adam Szubin said Tuesday that Tomana's pursuit of "selected political opponents threatens the rule of law in Zimbabwe, harms the integrity of the government ... and counters the will of the Zimbabwean people who have expressed their desire to build a democratic society."

Tomana is thereby barred from travel to the United States and financial assets he holds there may be frozen. He joins President Robert Mugabe and about 200 senior members of the long-ruling ZANU-PF party also subject to the restrictions, imposed in connection with alleged human rights violations and rigging of elections over the past decade.

The addition of Zimbabwe's attorney general to the US sanctions list seemed likely to increase tensions between Harare and Washington in view of Mr. Mugabe’s strong language on the subject at ZANU-PF's conference this past weekend.

"Why should we continue to have companies and organizations that are supported by America, by Britain, operating freely in our country without us hitting them back," Mr. Mugabe told ZANU-PF conference-goers. "The time has come for us to revenge."

ZANU-PF as a party resolved that Zimbabweans who call for sanctions should be charged with treason - a thinly veiled attack Mr. Mugabe's critics.

But political analyst Pedzisayi Ruhanya said that the political climate was unlikely to improve even if Tomana had not been subjected to US sanctions.